my boss wants me to make DIY disinfecting wipes to mail to employees, company won’t reimburse my plane ticket, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss wants me to make DIY disinfecting wipes to send to employees

My role is administrative in nature and I tend to do any ad hoc projects for the company. My boss is suggesting we put together COVID care package for our team, which I think is a great idea. However, supplies are still limited and I feel she is asking only for herself because SHE does not have any of the supplies and this would be the easy way for her to get them.

I was able to get together masks and hand sanitizer after much going around town. Now she wants disinfecting wipes, which are very hard to get anywhere. She suggested I look up do-it-yourself recipes to make my own for the team. I got really annoyed at this; it involves trying to obtain more resources that are not readily available, like bleach. This puts me in a position of running around trying to obtain things that aren’t easy to get, and frankly I do not want to wait in long lines and have to visit five Costcos around town. Plus I have other work on my plate. Isn’t hand sanitizer and masks enough to get the message across to employees that we’re trying? Am I completely being selfish in not wanting to do this?

You’re not being selfish; she’s being unreasonable. Asking you make do-it-yourself disinfecting wipes for your colleagues?

Say this: “I don’t feel equipped to make disinfecting wipes myself, or to risk the amount of public exposure it would take to try to find all the ingredients for them. I think everyone knows wipes just aren’t available right now and will appreciate what we were able to get. So my plan is to go ahead and put the packages together with what we have, and I should be able to send them out by (date).”

If she pushes you to do it anyway, say, “I needed to visit a lot of stores to get the other items. I’d need to visit even more to do this, including waiting in long lines with people not wearing masks. I don’t feel safe continuing to do that. I’m also really not equipped to make them myself. I’d like to send out what we have and then return to focusing on X and Y.”

2. Company won’t reimburse me for my plane ticket because they canceled my interview

Earlier this year, I was interviewing all over the U.S. for positions in a field where long hiring timelines are normal. One organization had me purchase a flight to be reimbursed, but the interview turned virtual as the pandemic escalated. At the time, we agreed to keep the flight credit in hope that I’d be able to use it later if they went forward with me as a candidate. However, they now have a hiring freeze on that position. Meanwhile, I received a different offer that I’ve just finalized (yay!).

I still have this non-refundable and non-transferable $750 flight credit. Unfortunately, the organization told me they can’t reimburse it because the flight credit is essentially like cash that I could use for something other than traveling to their site. For a lot of reasons, I’m unlikely to use it before its expiration date — I won’t be flying for my upcoming relocation, my new city will be close to my hometown and family, and I consider planning optional travel amidst a pandemic to be reckless and unwise. Is there a way I can politely ask them to reconsider reimbursement?

Yeah, that isn’t at all okay of them. You spent this money only because they assured you they’d reimburse you, and you shouldn’t be out $750 (!) as a result.

Say this: “If the sticking point is the credit, I’d be happy to ask the airline to cancel the credit entirely, but I do need you to cover the expense as we had agreed. I advanced the cost of the ticket because I took your promise to reimburse me on good faith, and could not have purchased it otherwise. I can’t afford to be out $750, which is a significant sum to me. How do we get this taken care of?”

If that doesn’t work, I’d seriously consider asking a lawyer for help. This is spectacularly crappy of them.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Should I interview just for practice?

I work in academia and currently have a non-tenure-stream appointment. In my case, that means a full-time position with full benefits, and a four-year contract that can be renewed indefinitely but limited potential for salary increases and a higher workload than people in tenure-track positions.

Due to some recent modest success in my field, I’m in a position where I’m pretty sure I could get a tenure-track job if I were willing to move to another university in a smaller city or more remote area (and more senior professors have told me the same, so I don’t think it’s just my ego talking). However, I don’t really want to do this. I live near family and cherished friends, in a city with a low cost of living that I love, and I don’t think a better job elsewhere would match the other benefits of staying where I am.

A few of my friends (who are also professors) have suggested that I should go on the job market and see if I can get to the interview stage, just for the sake of practicing interviewing. That way, if a tenure-track position does open up in my home city (at my current university or another nearby college), or if I change my mind about moving some day, I’ll be better prepared for the process and will hopefully get the job.

I can see that this would be beneficial. Academic interviews are typically day-long affairs, and though I have learned some things about them by attending the interview proceedings at my own university when candidates visit, I’ve never gone through the process myself. However, it seems like kind of a jerk move to use a university’s resources to interview for a job that I know I don’t want. In addition to them paying the cost of flights, hotel, etc., there’s the time that everyone in the department invests in interviewing and considering candidates. And I’ve seen first-hand how exhausting and disappointing it is for a department to conduct a search and not end up with a hire at the end of the whole (loooooong) process.

Is this just the cost of doing business for them, and something I’d be smart to try? Universities have been known to do the opposite, interviewing a couple of candidates out of obligation to have a complete hiring process, when they already know who they want to hire. Or am I right that I shouldn’t waste their time and resources, and shouldn’t take the chance away from someone who really wants the job? Most schools only bring in the top three candidates for an interview, so I know it’s a long shot that I’d even find myself in this position if I did apply.

Don’t do it. Not only will you be wasting the university’s time and money, but you’ll be taking a coveted, highly competitive slot from someone who really wants it and could potentially get the job otherwise. The academic job market is awful enough without people taking very limited interview slots just for practice.

If you were genuinely open to accepting the job, that would be different — but if you’re just doing it for practice, you’d really be operating in bad faith. Don’t do it.

4. Can I ask for time off in between jobs?

I’m currently interviewing for a job and as the prospect of switching jobs during a mandatory work-from-home edges its way into reality, I’ve been wondering if I can still ask for a week off between start dates. Granted, I’ll still be at home and technically able to work but I’d still like to have that time to have some time to reset my brain. Is it still okay to do this? And if it is, what’s a better way to request that time other than “Brain tired! Brain want rest!”

It’s completely fine and normal to take some time off in between jobs. You don’t even really need to “ask” for it — you can just say, “Would June 20 work as a start date?” If they ask if there’s any way you can start sooner, you can say, “I need to give my current job two weeks notice, and then I’d like a week in between to wrap some things up and to have a few days in between the old role and the new one.”

One additional week is highly unlikely to be a big deal, but if for some reason it won’t work for them (for example, if they need you there for a training class that’s only offered every few months or something), they’ll tell you. But it’s a completely normal thing to do, people do it all the time, and it’s not any less acceptable just because they know you’ll be at home.

5. Hiring freezes and job offers

I love your advice and am sure it contributed to where I am now — two competing (kind of) job offers! Unfortunately, the first job, which I like a little more, told me about a month ago that they had a hiring freeze. However, they said they would be able to move forward with hiring “hopefully by September.” They said they would not ask me to wait until then, but that they would contact me when they are in a position to hire again and see if I hadn’t already found full-time work. I was disappointed but said yes of course I understand and that I hoped they’d be in touch. I continued interviewing and have been offered another job with a start date in mid-July. It’s less close to what I want, but the pay is about comparable.

Would it be worth it to get back in touch and say I received another offer, and could they offer me the position with a start date later in the year? Should I even say anything at all, or just assume it’s not going to happen and move on? Luckily I am in a position where I could forgo a new job for a little while, but I’m hesitant to turn down this most recent offer without a more solid plan in place. For context. I am in an industry where many jobs are going virtual with little interruption in business, but fewer new clients are being referred so many places have had hiring freezes. Although I’m not worried at all about things bouncing back to normal in a few months, new postings have been very scarce in the month or two I’ve been job searching.

I’d be very wary of doing that. For one thing, if they felt confident about offering you a position to start in the fall, they probably already would have done that — but they sound like they don’t know for sure when they’ll be able to move forward. They hope it will be the fall, but it might not be.

More importantly, though, even if they did agree to do that, you can’t rely on the job truly materializing in the fall. You don’t want to be in a situation where they you offer you a job with a fall start date, you accept and stop your job search, and then in September they tell you they won’t be ready to hire this year after all — and so you’ve got to start a new search from scratch at that point.

That job might never re-materialize. Or if it does, they might not offer it to you again — they might have someone else come along who they think is stronger, or it might go to someone internal in some reshuffling, or so forth.

You’ve really go to proceed as if there’s no job offer there (because right now there isn’t) and evaluate the offer you do have on its own merits.

{ 362 comments… read them below }

  1. SusanIvanova*

    I wouldn’t even trust DIY wipes that *I* made. I would *not* use one that was made by someone else.

    1. Quoth the Raven*

      Agreed. And if I found out someone else was forced to expose themselves to potential harm out there to track down the resources needed to make them (whether or not I used them), I’d be pretty upset on their behalf.

      1. valentine*

        forced to expose themselves to potential harm out there to track down the resources needed to make them
        This is the worst bit. I hope OP1 will stop shopping in person and isn’t using their own money to foot the boss’ anxiety.

      2. Carlie*

        And it’s not just tracking down the ingredients – most stores have a one item per purchase limit on them. So it would still require several trips to the same store to get enough to make for the office.

    2. FaintlyMacabre*

      My workplace looked into making DIY sanitizer and wipes and concluded that the time and effort wasn’t going to be worthwhile, especially because they couldn’t guarantee the efficacy of the products. Push back on this.

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        I posted a link that appears to have been eaten by Internet gremlins, but if you look up “FDA” and “homemade sanitizer,” you will see that they do not recommend it. The same, I should think, would go for wipes. They may not be effective and could cause skin irritation.

      2. JustaTech*

        The only reason my work felt comfortable making hand sanitizer is that we’re a lab, so we had access to 100% (really 99.8%) alcohol, and the tools to measure correctly.

        And as soon as we could get the real stuff in everyone quit using the us-made stuff (except me, but I just wanted to get rid of it.)

    3. EPLawyer*

      Liability is huge here. Making your own wipes is not risky per se. I mean you aren’t going to physically harm someone from the wipe itself. BUT, if you don’t make them the right strength, they are basically watery napkins. You really don’t want some grieving family after you because the wipes weren’t effective.

      Also, the idea of “covid care packages” for the team just BUGS me. Is the team working? Are they remote? Is this just more “morale” boosting that is more an intrusion than helpful? But I would definitely add concerns about effectiveness of DIY wipes to Alison’s script.

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        Liability is huge here . . . . . You really don’t want some grieving family after you because the wipes weren’t effective.

        Agree. And should someone find themselves in that predicament:

        a) the grieving family isn’t going to accept “but the boss made me do it!” as an explanation.

        b) the boss isn’t going to do anything to help you out – and if they were the kind of a boss that would try to get you out of that kind of a jam, they’re the kind of boss that wouldn’t have asked you to make the wipes in the first place.

      2. Pennyworth*

        I agree about liability. Apart from providing homemade wipes that may not be effective, online ‘recipes’ include ingredients such a bleach and hydrogen hydrogen peroxide which can damage some surfaces. Anyone who can’t obtain Clorox or Lysol and wants to de-virus their surfaces can easily use soap – left in place for 20 seconds it will destroy the virus, the same as it does during the 20 seconds we lather out hands. If I was ever provided handmade wipes I would just throw them away.

        1. Mongrel*

          “can easily use soap – left in place for 20 seconds it will destroy the virus, the same as it does during the 20 seconds we lather out hands.”

          I’m fairly sure that leaving soap on a surface for 20 seconds doesn’t aid in it’s effectiveness much, the 20 second hand washing is to make sure you get all of your hand as it’s the combination of friction & surfactants that kill the nasties.
          Using hot soapy water on a surface – just make sure you scrub properly and rinse your cloth frequently, buy stacks of cleaning cloths and save them all up so you can use the hottest wash your machine does.

          If it’s feasible use soapy water on everything except things like kitchen counters & bathrooms where you want the added peace of mind.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            The 20 seconds are needed to break down the fatty outer layer of the virus, thus deactivating it and rendering it harmless.

            1. Mongrel*

              While soap breaks down the fatty layer it doesn’t need time to do that, it just needs good contact. It’s how soap works, simplistically it’s a stick where one end binds to water and the other binds to dirt (including fat) which is then easy to wash away. The “leave on the surface for 20 seconds” advice is from antibacterial products which DO require contact time.

              Scrubbing removes any detritus that may harbour the nasties (which is why soap works better than sanitiser, ‘dirt’ can stop it reaching everything on your hands).
              For hands the CDC recommend scrubbing as “… and people tend to scrub hands more thoroughly when using soap, which further removes germs”
              Finally, if soap had to be left on for 20 seconds then the advice would probably be to scrub your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds then leave your hands for a small amount of time before rinsing off. This sort of advice tends towards worst case and “ensure your hands are properly soaped then wait for the requisite 20 seconds” would be a simple step to add for best protection.

            2. Eukomos*

              My impression is that the time component in handwashing was to make sure people got all the surfaces of their hands; soap kills and removes microbes pretty instantaneously. For hand sanitizer it has to evaporate slowly enough for your hands to stay damp for 10 seconds, because alcohol does take a while to break down the virus’ protective layer. That’s why they recommend handwashing over sanitizer whenever possible.

        2. Jennifer Juniper*

          I spray anything I want to disinfect with Windex multi-purpose spray. It says “disinfectant” on the label, and I let it air dry.

      3. SusanIvanova*

        Yep, I’m not worried that the ones I made would be dangerous – I’d worry that they’d be useless.

        But all of this feels a bit too late – the masks I ordered a month ago have finally shown up, I’ve got soap, TP and pasta are back in the stores – and I was under the impression that soap is still a better choice than hand sanitizer anyway.

        1. Pennyworth*

          I’m soap all the way for obliterating coronavirus, but I’m not sure if it is effective as a general disninfectant for bacteria etc.

        2. MK*

          Sanitizer is supposed to be used when you don’t have easy access to washing your hands.

          1. Kelly L.*

            Yep, that’s what people miss when they go “But soap is better!” They’re not mutually exclusive; they’re for different situations. You can’t just go wash your hands all the time when you’re cashiering or on a bus or something.

      4. MK*

        Eh, receiving a package of masks and sanitiser is hardly intrusive. But yes, hand-made wipes sounds like a complicated process, plus I cannot imagine an effective way to package them (my commercially made wipes dry out if the packaging isn’t sealed properly), more likely to be a waste of time.

        1. JustaTech*

          I *wanted* to send out care packages of (home-made) masks through my site’s social committee, since masks were hard to come by and are required for going out now. So a coworker and I made 100 masks for our coworkers, but it was too complicated/expensive to send them out to everyone, so they were put on folks’ desks, which is only helpful for the people who are allowed to come in (about 1/3 of the building, the lab folks specifically).

      5. Avasarala*


        If the wipes are that easy to DIY, then the team can make it themselves.
        If they’re not, then it’s not reasonable to ask someone with no additional skills or resources to DIY it for you.
        That’s how DIY works.

        And that’s before you get into whether they are safe to use, effective, easy to make and mail out, or a good idea at all.

      6. Fikly*

        How do you know that you aren’t going to physically harm someone?

        You don’t know what the ingredients are, first of all. Second of all, people can be allergic or react to literally anything. It’s likely impossible to package these wipes in a way that if you just mail them out, the package can contain a list of the ingredients that can be accessed without exposing people to the wipes in some way. Something tells me most people are not going to contact everyone with a full list of ingredients, ask if it’s ok, and then send out packages only to the people that said yes.

        As an example, if I inhale any amount of bleach – and it can be from 20 feet away – I will go into immediate respiratory distress, and spend the next month struggling to breath and hoping to avoid hospitalization.

        1. Colette*

          Well, anything wet (I.e. containing bleach) would have to be fairly well sealed, so presumably you just wouldn’t open any containers if you were concerned.

          1. Fikly*

            Yeah, but you touch the wet, put it in the container, then touch the container to close it, thus getting it on the outside. It takes that little.

            1. Anony mouse*

              Sorry, I don’t mean to pry, but this made me so curious – does this mean you have to be super careful whenever you (used to*) go to a restaurant, or store, or mall, or anywhere where bleach may be used as a cleaning product?

              1. Fikly*

                Yup. Bleach had become less common, but I suspect it’s making a comeback. I’m going to have to be extremely careful when I start venturing out again.

                I used to work in an ER, and we only used bleach to clean a room when it needed what we called a “terminal clean,” which is to say, the person in the room either had or was suspected to have something that would only be killed by bleach (which is surprisingly rare). If that was the case, and they hadn’t been in one of the rooms that has negative pressure, which is a system that keeps the air in the room from going into the rest of the ER (it’s designed to help prevent the spread of contagious scary diseases, like Ebola), I would have to completely clear the ER until there was time for it to vent.

                Because this happened so rarely, it fell under a reasonable accommodation. If it happened frequently, I wouldn’t have been able to do that job.

        2. LJay*

          Also, depending on what these (and the hand sanitizer) contain and how much is in each inner and outer package, this stuff can be regulated as hazmat and require dangerous goods paperwork (or at the least an ORM-D label) which I am guessing neither the boss or the letter writer would be cognizant of.

          If it’s not labeled correctly, the box gets crushed, and someone in the supply chain gets some random liquid that’s a combination of household chemicals dripped on them, nobody is going to be happy with the result.

          1. Ethyl*

            “this stuff can be regulated as hazmat and require dangerous goods paperwork (or at the least an ORM-D label)…”

            This is what I was wondering! You can’t just mail out hand sanitizer or bleach like it’s NBD if I’m not mistaken….!

        3. TomorrowTheWorld*

          You’d have to avoid the hospital, since most medical care facilities use bleach as part of their sanitizing.

          1. My Dog Wiggles*

            Hospitals, all doctors’ offices, hair salons, nail salons, restaurants, grocery stores, any public bathrooms, any bathroom in an office building, basically anywhere that wasn’t your own home.

          2. Fikly*

            They don’t, actually, certainly not during patient hours.

            I used to work in an ER – I know what we cleaned with. Bleach was only used when a patient was known or suspected to have something that would only be killed by bleach, which was surprisingly rare.

            1. J.B.*

              Bleach (in much higher concentrations than what you buy commercially) can be the source of chlorine for water disinfection. It’s probably that it goes into solution, and you wouldn’t have vapors above the water surface.

              1. Fikly*

                Ok, something being the source, and then the result having the same chemical structure is not what is happening here. Once something goes into solution, it’s structure is different.

        4. Amethystmoon*

          Well that and people can be asymptomatic spreaders. So even with no symptoms, if someone touched all that stuff and I found a care package on my desk the next time I came in, I wouldn’t even use it without wiping it down first.

      7. Delta Delta*

        Or they turn out as super bleachy napkins, bleaching the color out of everything they touch. Seems like an okay idea if someone wants to do this for their own use at home, but seems unwise for the office.

      8. JSPA*

        Yep, glaringly obviously so!

        Even if the online recipe happens to be solid (many indeed are not!) you also have liability if someone misuses them (and they’re not labeled for correct use); liability for allergic responses (if they’re not labeled for that); active ingredient evaporates because they are not correctly packaged…and those are just the most obvious risks. And if they’re passed along, and someone mistakes it for a branded product of your company, there’s a whole other level of risks (you’re not approved to be making them commercially, right?)

        Not to mention, bleach-based wipes can cause real damage, if people use them on skin, rather than surfaces. (Oozing flesh wound level of damage.)

        Granted, it’s been headline news that “The U.S. FDA will not take action against manufacturers that begin preparing hand sanitizer for consumers and health care professionals.” But that means they won’t automatically take action, simply on the basis of the producers not being licensed. It doesn’t mean, “anyone can make anything, and send it off into the world with good intentions, kisses and fairy dust.” The stuff still needs to be properly made and packaged.

    4. only acting normal*

      I make my own kitchen spray and shower cleaner (not toilet, though it is possible), and I still wouldn’t trust my own homemade wipes! How would you get them evenly saturated with the active ingredient? And even the real thing dry out soon as look at them, and then they’re not effective.
      Non sanitation manufacturers in the uk (e.g. gin brewers) pivoted to making sanitiser and struggled to make it strong enough. Leave the tricky stuff to the professionals.

    5. Liz*

      Exactly my thoughts too. I managed to “stock up” on one local store’s own brand of wipes early on – 2 3 packs, where now they only sell individual containers and a limit of one, but I digress. But even if i didn’t have any, i’d make do with bleach, and whatnot. And if my employer sent me DIY wipes, i’d probably chuck them.

    6. Holey Moley*

      I think my argument would be that you cant guarantee that homemade wipes are effective and could open the company to liability issues. No thank you.

    7. Marlene*

      For sure! When I’m out, I take a face wipe (those are readily available and don’t take from people who need baby wipes) that I spray down with hand sanitizer that I was finally able to purchase two weeks ago. These are my emergency wipes to use on shopping cart handles. I have zero idea if they’re effective. Before I could find sanitizer, I used just face wipes to clean shopping cart handles and my hands in public, and hoped for the best.
      For my home, I use dish soap and Pine Sol. Both are readily available, and will disinfect most surfaces, I hope.

    8. Mel_05*

      Yes! I thought this letter was going to be about how grossed out people would be to receive these!

    9. Quill*

      I worked in a lab that specialized in antiseptics and honestly unless your company is one of the many breweries producing alcohol for disinfectants, I wouldn’t be distributing anything homemade in any large quantity.

      When it comes to alcohol based sanitizing wipes, they’re theoretically simple but sending you out to homebrew them is way too much of a risk compared to the good old fashioned soap and water wash and NOT going out to stores unnecessarily.

    10. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I’ve had to make DIY sanitizers at work (we used 1:10 bleach/water that we’d mix straight from the jug) and I firmly recommend against this. If it’s bleach based, it degrades when exposed to light/air/heat, so if you premix a batch that’s too big for you to use promptly, you have to throw the remainder away because it is no longer effective.

    11. Clisby*

      No kidding. OP – if your boss wants to send out sanitizing wipes, check if any place has them online, and order them that way.

    12. Mama Bear*

      We were told by our office manager not to expect wipes “for the foreseeable future” and to limit our use of paper products. They did source some single serve alcohol wipes and I’ve found non-bleach cleaning wipes but nothing like what I think OP’s boss wants. I would keep an eye on online supplies but I would definitely not run around town trying to find anything. I barely go to town to buy necessary items for my family.

    13. HailRobonia*

      SusanaIvanova’s response times 1000! Can you imagine if someone got sick because the DIY wipes were not effective? Even if they were, there is a shadow of a doubt and, though I am not a lawyer, I would guess there are liability issues.

    14. KR*

      Yuuuuup. The company I work for made their own sanitizer – but they made it in a nuclear lab and sent out MSDSs for it. It isn’t something someone should be doing at work without proper training and equipment.

  2. Artemesia*

    When I hired for academic positions we often only had the ability to bring in 2 or 3 candidates; I reserved special voodoo curses for people who apparently arrived to have a mini vacation or ‘practice interview’ because it meant we had less to choose from and competitive candidates who didn’t make final 2 or 3 were deprived of the opportunity. It doesn’t matter at a job fair or for a local company where there is no cost involved, but to have a university fly you across the country so you can play is pretty inconsiderate and it hurts other people who might have had the job but for you.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, this! I have served on many many hiring committees. Please do not waste our time, especially in a world where University budgets are stretched.

      1. PB*

        Yes. We’ve hired for a number of high-level positions in the last year (multiple associate dean roles, department head, etc.). Invariably, we’d get a candidate we’d be really excited about and then learn that they were interviewing for practice or to try to get a counteroffer from their current employer. We had one associate dean search that we had to repost three times, leading to a search that took more than a year and a major role sitting vacant for a very long time.

        It’s never kind to interview for practice. Right now, when budgets are extremely thin and there are people on the job market due to layoffs, I would take an even more dim view of someone who took an interview slot for practice.

        1. LunaLena*

          Completely agree. I once served on a hiring committee where more than one of the finalists who were brought to campus (some from out of state) were looking for a counter offer from their current employee or essentially interviewing for practice. As a result, three declined the offer and the fourth was rejected due to references, so we ended up having to fail the search and start over.

          1. JSPA*

            It has always been really, really common in academe, though! And it’s essentially impossible, at many schools, to jump from non-tenure to tenure track without doing this.

            OP could go either of three blameless routes:

            1. apply; if you make the short list, admit that there are significant barriers to relocating, and ask to be interviewed on your own dime, with the intent of finding out if the fit is so excellent that it would overcome those significant barriers. (Some schools will jump at the chance to interview a 4th or 5th candidate for free; and the fit might, in fact, be excellent.)

            2. apply: if you make the short list, seriously consider taking the job for a while (especially if teaching might end up being remote) but with the intention of parlaying that into, not an immediate offer, but a return to your current university in the future. If you’re lab-based this won’t work, but if you’re in a field where you can do teaching and mentoring remotely, at this specific time, having bragging rights and the right to your time may matter more to them than having you on site (or even in town).

            3. apply; if you make the short list, decline the interview, but make your short-listing a bargaining chip (and if you like, offer to give a free seminar by Zoom…at which people probably will still be trying to recruit you, quiz you, and otherwise act as if you’re still a candidate. All the practice, none of the pressure.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Yes, definitely. And aside from the ethical issues, you could be burning bridges – academia can be a very small community, and if word gets around, you could find yourself not getting shortlisted for jobs you want, because people think you are not operating in good faith.

      1. Carlie*

        Yes. The stakes are so high. If a search fails, it’s another full year until hiring season comes again and hope that another department hasn’t passed them up in priority by then. Budgets have gotten so tight over the years that it is sometimes not 3-4 candidates, it’s 2, so that’s 50% of the chance gone.

        But even discounting the effect on the school, think about the effect on you. These things are grueling. All the prep to be familiar with the school and the faculty. Two days of travel. 1-2 days of solid interviewing, including at all meals. And when a candidate doesn’t really want the job it shows fast, and then those two days are absolutely miserable as everyone goes through the motions.

        And what if you do convince them you want it, and you do get the offer? Are you sure that you’d have the resolve to pass up a job in hand, even though you know you wouldn’t like it? Would you take it and be miserable in it? It’s just not good any way you look at it. There are better ways to get interview practice.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yup, and at the institutions I’ve worked at, if the search fails we have no guarantee that we’ll keep the FTE line—it goes back to the university, and we have to duke it out with other departments. We just received a directive to cut our budget by 20%, and we have not recovered from being in the red during the Great Recession.

          There is no better way to burn a bridge not just with the hiring institution, but also with every faculty at every school who are networked with that institution, than to take interview offers when you know you would not accept an offer.

      2. Caterpie*

        ^^^ I do a lot of admissions work at the grad student level and when we find out that candidates accept ‘interview weekend’ offers for practice, a free vacation, etc. it isn’t pretty.

        We have no application fee (which is usually awesome!) so we get a few people like this every cycle unfortunately. At best the application just goes in the trash without review. However, last cycle we had someone who was very open about why she was there (practice for another interview), but didn’t know that a member of the admissions committee was personal friends with her current boss, who he later notified. The guy wanted to go scorched earth and contact the other place she was interviewing for, but I think someone else talked him out of that.

        Normally I think that response might be a little overkill for a student, but this woman was definitely gloating about it and treating the current students very poorly.

      3. Annony*

        This is what I was thinking too. No one likes to have their time wasted and academia tends to be a small world. You never know if someone on this search committee is friends with someone on the search committee for a job you do want. They could even transfer universities and be on that search committee. Do you think that they would take your application seriously at that point? If you are seriously considering the job but aren’t sold yet, it is absolutely fine to apply. If you know for sure that there is no way you would accept an offer, then don’t waste their time so that you can practice.

    3. Gingerblue*

      I’m not sure the friends are even talking about campus visits so much as first-stage Skype or conference interviews, where the investment from the school is so much lower. OP, have you clarified this with the people suggesting you do practice interviews? I agree not to go on a campus visit if you’re certain you don’t want the job, but treating a first-stage interview as practice is much more common advice and more reasonable to do.

      Anyway, kudos, your instinct to ignore them if they did mean campus visits is spot on.

      1. Lady Jay*

        It’s academia. “No practice interviews” holds for virtual, first round ones too.

        A single job may have between 400-1000 applicants. Only a small handful (20? 10? will make the shortlist. OP would still be taking a coveted spot from someone who is invested in the process and really wants the job.

        1. PB*

          Right, and even a virtual interview will generally be a full day’s investment for the hiring committee. They’re devoting time to that and not to other priorities. I have chaired multiple academic searches and served on still more committees. It’s an investment I’m happy to make because it’s an investment in making my team stronger. But if I learned I’d sunk all that time into someone who was using it for practice? I would take a very dim view.

        2. Gingerblue*

          Enh, I disagree. If you’re invested enough to bother putting together an application good enough to get an interview, I’d have zero compunctions about taking the interview. I guess I don’t see much chance of the OP completing any significant number of applications that get interview invites without actually wanting the job.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Do you work in academia, and specifically, on the tenure-track side of academic hiring?

          2. Eukomos*

            In academia we use the same CV for everything, and very standardized cover letters so there’s less tweaking there as well. It’s much more effort to do one application, but somewhat less to do a dozen (which is good because you need to apply to dozens). References aren’t called, they write a letter and send it out to as many people as you ask them to. Especially if OP has become a bit of a name in the field, she could well get invites to interviews without wanting the job.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Even if that’s the case, a first-stage interview is a significant investment for the hiring committee. Academia is very competitive, there are not enough positions, and the time invested is significant. Please do not take a “first-stage” interview if you have no intention of considering an offer or that institution.

    4. TechWorker*

      Even for a local company there is not ‘no cost involved’ in hiring or an unlimited number of interview slots. But I agree this is worse!

    5. MK*

      Also, I am questioning the benefit of “practice interviews”. If the OP was actively looking for a job right now, maybe it would help to get into the swing of the process. But is doing a couple of interviews now going to be a lot of help 2-3 years down the road?

      1. Tyche*

        A lot of things could change in the meantime: what’s useful today could be outdated and useless 2-3 years from now. I interviewed after 5-6 years and it changed how I applied to my new job, my resume, and my approach in general to the overall process.

      2. Annony*

        What could be useful is applying for positions now that they feel may be a bit of a stretch but would be very attainable in 2-3 years. Often we underestimate ourselves so if they get an interview it’s great and useful even if they simply view it as practice. But if they get offered the job it would be one that they actually want and can accept.

        1. Paulina*

          Yes, apply for the jobs you really want even if you don’t think they’re likely. You might get one, and whatever experience you get will be more appropriate. Different institutions emphasize different things, so you might get wrong ideas about how things would go for where you want to be, from your “practice”.

    6. Anon for this*

      Agreed – it’s horribly inconsiderate of others (both applicants and search committees) to apply for tenure-track jobs with no intention of taking a job when it is offered. Plus, word gets around, and someone who did this would be the subject of some pretty condemnatory remarks.

      But I’d like to add that it’s also a pretty serious misperception on on the LW’s part that their non-tenure-track job has a higher workload than their tenure-track and tenured colleagues. Perhaps they meant that their teaching load is higher.

      1. un-pleased*

        Yeah, this. I’ve been an NTT with a high teaching load. It’s a lot of work. But I didn’t have faculty meetings or other committee responsibilities, and while I could publish if I wanted and did, I didn’t have to publish at a tenure-earning pace (at least according to my contract). The tenure track just has higher expectations.

        If the LW has this misperception, it would be really beneficial to get it cleared up now.

        1. Eukomos*

          If you’re anticipating applying to TT jobs in the next few years you need to publish at a TT-job-acquiring pace, though? Which in my field is not significantly less unless you’re still ABD.

        2. emmaline*

          This depends on the institution, though. NTT faculty at my institution have all the service responsibilities of TT faculty.

          1. Academic Addie*

            That’s really interesting … are NTT at your institution expected to be research active? They must be if you’re expected to be associate editors of journals, active in your professional society, invited to grant review panels, etc.

    7. Practical Criticism*

      I agree with all of the above. Especially that if/when you do need to hit the job market for real, you do not want to have the reputation of someone who wasted loads of their colleagues time and energy interviewing when you didn’t really want the job. There’s more to the person you gets hired than great research; collegiality matters.

      If you want interview practice, ask for it from some senior people in your department, or that you know in your field. Most fields run some kind of training sessions for grad students, post docs, non t-t faculty on exactly these skills.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This was my thought. Why can’t those professors who are encouraging OP to get interview practice be the ones to run a practice interview for them!?

        1. Ama*

          Yes — at my last job in academia I was admin for a graduate program that also had postdocs who would stay a year or two while hopefully looking for a faculty position. We actually used to organize practice interviews and lectures (this was a field where giving a formal lecture on your area of expertise was a common part of the interview) as part of the postdoctoral program. People seemed to really appreciate it, and it was a good way for them to get early feedback without the stress of competing for a job.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          This is exactly what they should do. My alma mater moots with us for hiring interviews. It is insane to try to export that labor on an innocent institution that is making a good faith offer to interview.

      2. OrigCassandra*

        This was also my thought. Not every academic will be kind enough to beta-read an application package, watch a job talk and make suggestions, or engage in a mock interview — but many will, and that’s the ethical way to get the practice you (quite reasonably) want, OP.

        Another thing you can ask about is what the meet-the-folks sessions (there will often be one or two) were like and what questions people had. In my department, interviews include a meet-the-NTT-folks session and a meet-the-admin-staff session. I’m guessing you know this, but — do not assume these are pro forma! We (I’m NTT myself) can’t get you hired if the faculty aren’t on board, but we can block a hire, and I’ve actually done it. (My department trusts me as a judge of character. The candidate wasn’t a bad person at all — several faculty liked them a lot — just ill-suited to and unlikely to be content with or good at the kind of teaching we do. I pointed this out to the search-committee chair with specific reference to the candidate’s prior teaching record and statements to us NTTers, and that was pretty much that.)

        1. Majnoona*

          I chaired a search where I left the candidate with some undergraduates and a graduate student for lunch. The grad student came back afterwords and said, I don’t know if this matters, but the minute you left the room the candidate was condescending and rude to the students. It mattered.

      3. Paulina*

        Exactly. If the OP does interviews at smaller universities, they’re likely to have a very small budget for interviews, so very few slots. These people — who are faculty in the OP’s field — will be livid if they figure out the OP wasted one of their few interview slots on “getting experience because someday”. And they probably will, it often shows during the interview and certainly does if someone turns down the job and stays at their prior NTT one. These people will have connections to others in their field (also the OP’s field), and word could easily get around that the OP is just wasting interview time. The people hiring for a job the OP really wants, in future, may cross the OP off because of this.

        A failed search is not part of the cost of doing business in academia. It can be very hard these days for a unit to get permission to hire TT, and failing to hire can enable some administrations to yank the position back (never filled). They might instead miss out on a good candidate who didn’t get the slot you took, have to remount the search at a difficult time of year to hire, or simply have to struggle through one more year understaffed, which can be a very big deal for small units. They will not be happy and they will talk about it.

        Dear OP, please do not burn your colleagues at other universities by doing this to them. It will not enhance your standing in your field, and may doom future connections that you really need.

    8. Shhhh*

      Academia is also a small world. You could encounter someone on one search committee again when you’re applying to another job at another institution.

      I’m an academic librarian and I’ve been involved in two searches at different institutions. There’s someone I would be extremely hesitant to advance in a search based on his actions – in this case, I have no doubt that he came into the interview thinking he did want the job, but by the end of the interview, he had clearly decided he didn’t want it and was down right rude to everyone involved.

      In the other case, there was a candidate that had interviewed for a position in our university system once before, and one of the senior administrators involved in both the previous search and our search thought the candidate hadn’t been serious about the original job she interviewed for. Even though she was a competitive candidate, the search committee deferred to the senior administrator’s judgement and didn’t invite her for a initial phone interview.

      Don’t do it. It makes search committees mad; as Artemesia said, it hurts other candidates; and it can hurt you in the future. I completely understand the desire and the recommendation to get practice with academic interviews because they are hard, but it’s not worth it.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        I’ll admit, I’ve started worrying about the whole “it’s a small world”. I’ve been looking for leave my current job for a few years, and have gone on close to 10-12 academic interviews for library jobs in that time. My current job hasn’t quite given me enough experience to make me super competitive, so I got two jobs offers. The first the place was not a good cultural fit and I worried about my mental health, and the second, I was all ready for when some family stuff came out, that moving away that far wouldn’t be great. But it’s been so long now, I have worried that I’ll run across people I’ve met before.

        I just know that when I do start looking again (since jobs are basically non-existent right now), it’s gonna be weird if I do run across someone I met before, and they realize I’m still in the same role as before.

        1. Gloucesterina*

          GigglyPuff–in my corner of the academic universe, 2 job offers = insanely successful, nigh beyond belief! Congrats and don’t sell yourself short!

      2. J.B.*

        Interesting. I interviewed at an academic library and they seemed to think I was insufficiently motivated for the job, which was a 2 year fellowship without promise of permanent hiring after. Everyone expected you to be super enthusiastic, which is very odd to me about any job. I’ve enjoyed all the things I’ve done but don’t do perky well.

    9. Ash*

      How did you find out they were there for practice or a vacation? Is that something they disclosed?

      1. LifeBeforeCorona*

        Years ago at an OldOffice we flew 10 students from across the country for interviews for a six-month position that would be a great career boost. I was in charge of making travel arrangements and one person kept changing their dates and times. They finally admitted they wanted to come because they have never been to our nation’s capital before and wanted to meet up with friends. I still remember their name and it’s been years. In the end, they didn’t get their free trip.

        1. Kate R*

          That person was definitely inconsiderate by requesting you keep changing the dates, but I wouldn’t be put off from finding out someone was meeting up with friends outside of the interview. It would make sense to me that they might want to find out what living in the city is like before committing to taking a job there. It’s the no intention of actually taking the job that would upset me, and like Ash, I’m wondering how people find that out. People turn down jobs all the time, so unless they’re bragging about their “free trips”, how do you know? I’m not condoning that behavior by any means though.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            But meeting up with friends while you’re there isn’t quite the same as trying to reschedule the interview multiple times because you’re basically prioritizing the friends over the interview.

          2. LifeBeforeCorona*

            They were very open about why they kept changing the date and flight, they wanted to meet friends who were coming in from a nearby city. We had set a week aside for interviews and let the students choose their date within that week and we were paying airfares and hotels. After the third change, I told my boss. Hopefully, it was a learning experience for them.

            1. Kate R*

              Gotcha. Like I said, I do think that person was being very inconsiderate. I would have cancelled the interview too based on their immaturity and lack of professionalism. I just meant that, to me, their actions didn’t indicate they weren’t also genuinely interested in the job, whereas the OP is asking about interviewing for a job they never had any intention of taking. I’ve had plenty of PITA coworkers who would have thought nothing of asking for multiple reschedulings too and then be shocked, SHOCKED, when their interview got revoked. But yeah, hopefully it was a learning experience for them.

              1. Paulina*

                The job in question sounds like a great opportunity, one that someone who actually wanted it would make a priority instead of whether they could arrange the travel to meet up with friends. And if they thought they were amazing enough to jerk around the travel dates and still get the job, they wouldn’t’ve needed to; they would later be there for six months and could then meet their friends at their leisure without needing to fit it around a potentially quite busy interview timeline.

                The alternative, that they wanted the job but were still a jackass to the support staff making the arrangements, for something that was only marginally useful to them, also puts them in the do-not-hire bin.

      2. Majnoona*

        In my case, having chaired a million searches, the tell is often the questions they don’t ask about the community. Most candidates try to imagine themselves living here and ask whatever questions are appropriate to their lives. If they don’t, they’re usually not serious

        1. Paulina*

          Yep. A candidate who doesn’t take the job due to dealbreakers with the job or community will have asked about those during the interview. Someone with no questions about what it’s like to live here (especially if it’s a smaller, less-well-known place) or what it’s like to work with us either doesn’t really want the job or is too naive about the commitment to be a good hire.

          We had one such a few years ago, and his lack of interest in us was so clear that I was not surprised to find out that he’d arranged his trip back to have a significant layover at the major city he had to fly through.

    10. Overeducated*

      Not to mention wasting the time of your references. A lot of fields still require recommendation letters up front, or request them for first round candidates, which is a real time investment! You don’t want a reputation as someone who is inconsiderate and unserious in such a small world.

      This has been a serious consideration for my spouse deciding whether to apply for jobs in areas we’re not sure we’d move to because of my job. In some cases he has decided not to, and there is a cost in time and goodwill just to apply.

      1. J.B.*

        Why on earth do people want the letters up front? If I don’t move on even to the first round of interviews (despite being a good paper match for the position), isn’t that the definition of wasting recommenders’ time?

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          A question I’ve been asking, steadily and louder every hiring season, for the past several years. And yes, yes it is.

    11. Dr. Rebecca*

      I’m SO glad this was one of the first replies. I concur with all the nested comments.

      OP3, PLEASE do not. I’m on the TT job market right now, and it is brutal out there. Do you really want to contribute to that brutality, just so you can practice for a job track you don’t even want?

    12. Sara without an H*

      OP#3, the advice to go ahead and interview for “practice” dates from the Golden Days of Yesteryear, when jobs were plentiful. (How old are these friends of yours, anyway?!) You have, I hope, noticed that now — they’re not.

      If AAM had upvote buttons, I’d have upvoted every post in this thread. You do not want to get a reputation for being a dilettante. It will surely come back to bite you.

      And besides, the gig you have now (four-year renewable contract, with benefits, in an affordable city you like near friends and family) sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Yes, your teaching load is higher than it is for you tenure-stream colleagues, but you probably don’t have to put in any time on committee work. Instead of investing time and energy on “practice” interviews, see if you can do some more publishing, presenting, or other participation in your professional association. (This varies a lot depending on your field.) No job in academia is entirely secure right now, but staying in place and building your reputation will do you more good in the long run than wasting time on jobs you’d never take.

      1. Oldbiddy*

        Academics is a weird place, and I’d be wary of both the “you’ll get a tenure track job no problem” and the “Do a practice interview” advice. How to get around this seemingly contradictory set of suggestions? Network at every opportunity, go to conferences and give talks, and practice your research proposal talks (if applicable), sample class talks, etc, in front of knowledgeable colleagues, and take advantage of web forums on what to expect for academic interviews. Do some soul searching on what you really want, and prioritize options. Start interviewing at year 3 of your contract, or whenever you see jobs that you want. It’s possible that you’ll “waste” an opportunity if it’s an early interview, but in my experience it’s worse to have a reputation as someone who deliberately did practice interviews with no intent of taking the job. (FWIW I turned down a job that I applied to in good faith due to it being an extremely bad fit, and that did cost me when I interviewed the following year)
        Faculty jobs in my field haven’t been plentiful in at least 50 years, although some time spans are worse than others. There are always lots of qualified candidates who cannot get jobs and then move on to industry, national labs, etc. My PhD advisor went to industry first due to the lack of jobs and then moved back to academics after a few years and key discoveries. He now has a Nobel Prize.

    13. OP*

      This was my instinct, so thanks for confirming (Alison and everyone else!). It didn’t feel right but since a few people had encouraged me to do it I wondered whether I was overlooking something or being too concerned about other people’s feelings to my own detriment. But I agree, the job market is brutal and I don’t want to make it worse for anyone (whether candidate or university).

      Some commentators are saying that the TT jobs aren’t actually less work. I’m sure that is different place to place, but at my university NTT *do* have committee requirements in addition to their (higher) teaching load. If other commenters feel there are other burdens of being on the tenure track (aside from publishing requirements, which really I don’t mind) I’d be honestly interested to hear about them. I know every type of job has its hidden challenges, and I know TT teaching is still hard work. But I don’t see a lot of TT faculty rushing to trade their positions for NTT, and I certainly don’t relish having to re-apply for my job every four years, even if I can be fairly certain it will renewed. You never know when the game will change and NTT jobs will be eliminated (like…right now).

      1. Annony*

        From what I’ve seen, tenure track has more unwritten expectations and if they aren’t met, you don’t get tenure. They need more publications, grants and mentoring experience as well as pressure to do more than the minimum number of committees and other administrative tasks. I think the major reason that they are more desirable than NTT jobs is that there is the promise of job security if you manage to jump though the hoops, not that the job itself is easier.

        1. OrigCassandra*

          There’s a lot to this, yes. The college (within the university) I teach for is fairly notorious for an extremely difficult and sometimes capricious tenure process. My department had a failed tenure bid some time ago and it was wretched for all of us — worst of all for the tenure candidate, of course.

          Someone who’s tenured has more security than I-the-NTT-instructor do, but I wouldn’t trade my NTT job for TT even if I were eligible to do so (which I’m not; I don’t have a Ph.D). The stress and uncertainty over tenure are really really real.

      2. From the tenure track*

        Everyone else’s job looks easier from the outside. I have been annual renewable and I have been tenure track. Each has their own challenges. What annual renewable doesn’t get about the tenure track side is “the clock” One can be an outstanding teacher and still not get tenure. Serve on committees. Publish. And still not achieve tenure. In my institution, the tenure track person has 3 years until their first review and will be counseled to seek other employment if they seem not to have the trajectory. At six years it is either tenured or losing your job. You may say oh, no problem publishing. That writing, revising, and review is nights and weekends. Not every journal is considered as acceptable. Service is nights and weekends. Collaborating with other departments, nights and weekends. Certification panels, nights and weekends. Funding and grant applications. Nights and weekends. Oh, and while “on the clock” don’t make waves, keep your opinions to yourself, and try not to be too anything. Learn to play politics. Be visible but not too visible. Don’t make anyone in your department or college angry or envious.

      3. OrigCassandra*

        This can be discipline- and even department-dependent.

        In my shop — I’m NTT, and prof-of-practice (meaning I have the terminal professional degree for the field I teach in, but no Ph.D) — I have service responsibilities equal to those of a TT/tenured faculty member. I don’t mind this, because it means I also have as close to an equal voice in departmental decisionmaking as deeply-hierarchical academia can offer. I also have a twelve-month contract (so I teach a full load in summer), where TT/tenured faculty are nine-month; there are other such differences (e.g. promotion paths) that are university-wide rather than department-level. I have as much control over the content and delivery of the courses I teach as a TT/tenured faculty member. (This isn’t total for either group; required courses have to accomplish certain goals, for example. But it’s substantial, especially for electives!) Interpersonally, I feel as respected and valued as any other person in the department.

        The larger institution decrees that NTT instructional folks not do research. In practice, this decree is not heavily enforced, and my department doesn’t enforce it at all because they know they’d lose me and other research-active NTT folks if they did. I’m presently co-investigator on a grant-funded research project, and it’s fine. I can’t PI a research project like this — that’s where enforcement actually does happen — but I can work on it and publish from it, which is all I want anyway. (PI-ing is for the birds! I got temporary PI status for a non-research grant, and I hated all the extra work!)

        Compare this to one of the sibling departments in our division. NTT people there are basically treated like cattle. They have no committee responsibilities — and concomitantly no voice. (Outreach and industry programs are run by NTT folks, but does that give them a voice in the department? Does it hell.) They have very little control over the courses they teach. They’re considered disposable. I won’t tell the stories I’ve heard about maltreatment of NTT folks by the tenured over there — but I’ve heard a lot of them, I believe them, and they’re absolutely horrendous.

        So you can imagine why, when a departmental merger between us and them was put on the table, every NTT person in our department stood up and HOWLED. (I was quite explicit: “if this merger happens, I will walk out the door.” My department understood.) It didn’t happen. The new division happened instead.

      4. SPDM*

        Where I am at an R1, tenure track profs typically work 50-60 hours per week, teaching track is really about 40 (and can be fewer if you’re repeating an old class and don’t do any research at all). Writing grants and running 10-20 person labs more than makes up for the time not spent on teaching. Teaching track profs will often cite wanting to spend more time with family in addition to liking teaching as the reason they made their choice. (This is true both in a social science field I was in and a STEM field I am now in.) This will be both field- and university-dependent, so do be cautious if you look elsewhere down the line. For tenure-track positions, I have seen the hours range from 40ish to 70ish based on the institution even within a single field.

        1. A Genuine Scientician*

          Where I am, the amount of time teaching takes varies tremendously on course level.

          I have an NTT teaching role where I’m teaching intro level courses, predominantly for people majoring in my field. Especially for the laboratory classes, but also to an extent in the lecture classes, I spend substantially more time grading than I do preparing the lessons. The amount of time I spend grading has gone down slightly as I get more used to the assessments we use, but not all that much. And in the lab courses, what assessments we use and how often we use them are set by the curriculum coordinators, not by the individual instructors, so my only option for spending less time grading would be to be less thorough in it.

          Even the NTT faculty who are predominantly in the lecture courses don’t keep to a 40 hour week, as all the ones I know invest a substantial amount of time in revising activities and lesson plans each semester to try to improve over the last one.

          One additional challenge I see for the TT people is the funding model. Not only do you need to get grants to keep your research program going, grants are a major way that graduate students, and almost all postdcos, are paid. In my field, graduate students are tied to a specific professor, not a department as a whole, and if that professor doesn’t have the money to pay them, or for their work, they’re in serious trouble. The university guarantees a certain number of years of stipend through TAships if nothing else, but a small enough number of years that I don’t know a single person in my discipline who TAed each semester and also graduated in that number of years. For me, the stress about whether I was bringing in enough money to keep my students employed would be a substantial one.

          In both 2018-19 and 2019-20 I was on the academic job market. Both years I got a single tenure track offer. The first one I turned down due to a combination of location (the deep South isn’t the greatest option when you’re gay and single; my department would have been fine, but I don’t know that the city would have) and the startup package being so small that I doubted I could buy the necessary equipment for my research. The second one was a much more difficult decision, but the salary relative to the cost of living was very low (eg: the high school a mile away was offering $15k more per year for a teacher in my field with 0 experience required), and a sudden death in my family made the idea of moving right now daunting. Instead, I accepted the NTT offer I got in February 2020. I have concerns that I might have done my reputation some harm in interviewing for positions I ended up declining in order to stay in my same city, even though I was seriously considering the outside positions and didn’t know what the salaries or startup offers would be until I was made the offers (and in both cases, they were much lower than my mentors told me to expect).

          Even beyond the serious issue of taking a slot away from someone who might really want the position, I would not risk your reputation in interviewing for something you’re reasonably confident you would not accept. The odds of no one noticing that you weren’t serious about the position are very low, and that can really count against you in the future, even elsewhere; people talk.

      5. Academic Addie*

        Why would we trade in our TT appointments for NTT? “Less work” isn’t the issue. My TT appointment comes with access to research funds I don’t otherwise have. It comes with the ability to have graduate students, and apply for specific funding streams that require me to be TT. I publish about 6 papers a year, and do heaps of service. Sometimes I feel bad for how much night and weekend work I do, but for most NTT folks, research isn’t a big part of the job.

        Most weeks I spend 20-30 hours on research, 10 on service, and 20 on teaching. It’s one thing to “not mind” publication requirements. It’s another thing to spend many to most of your working hours on it. I think the biggest stressor in my life is keeping enough money coming in to pay my personnel, and mentor them to get good jobs. NTT jobs just don’t have that. Again, the issue is not “less work” – it’s that I have the privilege to be rewarded for the 30 hours a week I do research. You likely don’t.

        If you’re not really interested in supervising graduate students or doing research, stick with your NTT job. It’s much less work and stress for you.

      6. Prof*

        I’m TT at a teaching-focused school in the U.S. In addition to the research requirements, some of the things that are part of my evals but not those of my NTT colleagues include:
        – Advising students (a formal cohort of advisees in addition to less structured mentoring, involving them in research, etc.)
        – Demonstrating that I’m continuing to improve my teaching and courses every year (e.g., documenting ongoing professional development and pedagogical innovation), and developing new courses (not just new preps, but actually add electives to the course catalog)
        – Additional service obligations (e.g., being expected to participate in university-wide committees, not just departmental ones, and in developing major departmental initiatives like assessment)

        There are also some informal requirements, like navigating politics and building connections with faculty in other areas of the university, that also loom large in my mind in trying to ensure that no one on campus will have reason to oppose my tenure bid down the road. So the fact that the metric to which I ultimately have to perform is potentially fluid adds another layer of work, if that makes sense. It’s not necessarily enough to do my job as specified.

        Some of this may be true at NTT jobs in various places as well, and I’m absolutely not complaining; I love my job and wouldn’t want to switch. Just offering one example of what the differences can be.

    14. Clisby*

      Agreed. I’m fine with people doing interviews for practice (like the examples you gave) but not if it clearly involves a substantial cost to the employer. Now, if people are just advising OP to go ahead with an early Skype interview or something? I don’t see anything wrong with that, but that’s not the impression I got.

    15. Marion*

      No one will be hiring tenure track positions anywhere for the next two years regardless. The tenured faculty who gave you this advice are so out-of-touch as to be delusional if that hasn’t occurred to them, and so you should ignore their advice entirely.

    16. Lavender Menace*

      Also, there are so many less-expensive and time-consuming ways to get experience! If you have colleagues and friends who are senior professors, why not just ask them if they can give you a practice interview?

  3. MJ*


    Lucky you found masks, otherwise your boss would have you sewing a bunch by hand!

    And making disinfectant wipes does not sound like a safe thing to do. What with the chemicals.

    1. Kelly Kapoor*

      This is so true! At our compounding pharmacy, we are making hand sanitizer, and the fire marshall had lots of requirements regarding storage and ventilation due to all of the chemicals used.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Also as a recipient I would be squicked out and wouldn’t trust someone else’s DIY wipes.

  4. EPLawyer*

    #2 — obviously the ideal solution would be to be reimbursed. But double check the expiration date on the ticket. I had some flight credits with Southwest expiring and was IRKED we couldn’t use them in time. Then SW sent an email — all flight credits are extended to 2022. You read that right — 2 extra years.

    The airlines are going to be desperate for fliers if this keeps up. Your airline may be willing to extend the credit just to have you fly and maybe spend money in the future.

    1. Dan*

      Sure, but even if the credit was good forever, the interviewee shouldn’t have to have $750 cash tied up for the forseeable future (until they can, maybe, *eventually* spend a credit) just because the organization converted their interview from in-person to virtual. That’s not ethical or reasonable.

      1. MK*

        True, but if they dig in and refuse (and it might not make sense for the OP to take legal action), it’s worth contacting the airline and trying to get an extension.

        1. Ash*

          I would just file a small claims case then. Just being served alone may be enough to scare them into reimbursing. A lawyer’s fee would likely eat up a good chunk of the $750 owed.

          1. Vina*

            Typically, small claims is what I’d recommend. Not in this case. In this case, I don’t think there’s any cost-effective legal remedy. The company likely knows this.

            If she files in the jurisdiction where the company is located, he’d have to fly out and appear in that state. The cost of the ticket would negate the award. Maybe, maybe she gets lucky and they’d let her appear via video. That’s a big maybe.

            If she filed and won in his own state, she’d have to attempt to collect in the other state, which means costs and fees in transferring the judgment to collect. That’s also if the other state has adopted the uniform act on enforcement of judgments. Not all have. If not, I think she’d have to file a new suit in the state. Back to the previous problem.

            Lastly, as we are in Covid—19 Court shutdowns, small claims are very, very low priority. My local court isn’t even having criminal jury trials until at least August. So, small claims? Likely waiting until late fall if not 2021 before anything is addressed.

            EPLawyer is absolutely correct. Best recourse is to try to get the airline to extend the date to use the ticket. The company is unlikely to budge and the legal recourse is too costly and too onerous relative to the cost of the ticket.

            1. Vina*

              The Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act – name of the act I was referring to.

              Just checked, it’s now 47 states. But you still have to register your judgment in the courthouse of the jurisdiction where the debtor resides. The clerk can charge you for that. Also, you either have to fly there yourself or path someone to “domesticate” the judgment by filing it.

              In any event, it doesn’t seem worth it given the amount of money.

              I also looked, some states charge filing fees for small claims and some don’t. The fee has to be paid before going to court.

                1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

                  Jurisdiction isn’t really the problem here. The whole issue arises because it’s a question of reimbursing flying a person from State A to State B. They thus were fully aware they were contracting with a person from State A.

                  As EPLawyer said, it’s really a question of whether it’s worth the trouble and expense to pursue.

                2. Vina*

                  Not a problem at all when that entity reaches into he state and creates an agreement there. This isn’t even grey. You accidentally reach people in a state, maybe, but this is on purpose and with full knowledge.

                  How do you accidentally do that? I make a contract to supply parts to Kitty Herders Inc. Kitty Herders uses my part to herd kitties in another state. There’s a very great case on this from law school that had something to do with a motorcycle part manufactured in Taiwan.

            2. Vina*

              *Best recourse if company won’t reimburse. Didn’t mean to misrepresent what EPLaywer said above.

              1. Ash*

                Ah yes of course, the LW is not in the same state. That does complicate things. What a crappy situation. Perhaps LW should contact a board member or something? This is just such outlandish behavior on the part of the company.

    2. snowglobe*

      Because of the pandemic, many airlines have been providing full refunds if you request it. I was scheduled to fly in May, along with my in-laws. The airline sent me an email that I could cancel the flight for a credit, which I did. Then I heard from my in-laws that in the fine print of the email, it said that you could contact customer service for a full refund. I did, and received the full refund a few days later. This was a budget airline that doesn’t normally offer refunds, so I’d say it would be worth the LW’s time to try.

      1. D*

        Just want to second this. I had a work trip planned for May. I purchased ticket, was reimbursed by work, and then had the flight canceled and put on credit. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of it just sitting on credit indefinitely, so I called the airline and firmly requested a refund which they eventually provided. The flight was refunded to my credit card, and my credit card transferred the positive balance to my bank account. Work was then able to split the amount and deduct it from my paychecks. It was an international flight, so they split it between two paychecks. I would definitely recommend calling to get a refund. It’s a little complicated but they are providing them. It’s a relief to not be on the hook for any work reimbursement right now. Not that I plan on leaving my position, and I’ll likely plan on traveling again, but it’s just all so uncertain that it’s nice to have a clean slate.

        1. TiffIf*

          If a flight is cancelled by the airline they are going to try to convert it to a credit, but if you want a straight cash refund they are REQUIRED BY LAW to give you one.

      2. Artemesia*

        We got $3500 worth of tickets to France reimbursed but it took a lot of phone calls and emails to move them from vouchers. I had no trouble getting my grandchild’s ticket reimbursed as she was flying unaccompanied minor one leg, but my husband and my ticket took a lot of effort — but was finally refunded.

        This company is horrible to try to stick you with this and I hope you can prevail.

      3. AP*

        Airlines are refunding if *they* canceled the flight because the DOT is forcing them to do it. (The DOT had to issue a warning to the airlines in early April to stop holding onto people’s money if the flight was canceled or the itinerary was substantially changed.)

        They are generally not refunding if the passenger canceled their reservation, but instead only are offering future credit.

      4. LW #2*

        Hello! Kind thanks to you and others in this thread for the suggestions and tips. I’m glad to hear people are having some success pleading their case to airlines. The airline I planned to fly was not cancelling or moving flights at the time, so the DOT rules don’t help me in this case—my ticketed flight still took off. If the final word from the organization is no, I’m going to go this route. 

    3. Lynn*

      Was going to say this! I think they are also letting travelers convert funds to points, which never expire.

      Also, if the flight ended up being cancelled by the airline, the OP can still legally ask for a refund of the fund as per DOT guidelines (assuming this is in the US but I think the EU and other areas have even more consumer-minded laws). I think this applies even if the flight ended up rescheduled with a new departure time >4 hours from the original.

      The employer is 10000% crappy and should be publically shamed, but honestly working with the airline might just be easier.

      1. LJay*

        Yes the EU offers much better protections for air travelers than the US does.

        If the flight was cancelled or delayed by the airline EU261 applies.

        It sounds like the OP may have cancelled, not the airline. In that case EU261 does not apply unless there have been COVID-19 related amendments to it, but some other regulation might.

        But absolutely the airlines want to maintain customers right now. (They also want money in hand lol, but don’t we all). I am pretty sure almost all can be convinced to refund during this time.

        My parents just went through this with Spirit. Apparently getting the refund is going to take some time, but they are getting cash reimbursement.

        1. Lynn*

          if the whole flight ended up cancelled anyway it may still apply even if OP cancelled first — worth looking into, at least!

    4. OpsAmanda*

      I would see if its possible to transfer the flight credit to the company and have the company provide a reimbursement. Our organization bought several non-refundable flights for individuals for a conference that was supposed to happen at the end of March. (We’ve learned our lesson and are never buying non-refundable flights again). We contacted the airlines and they were able to transfer the flight credits from the individuals to our organization.

      1. Mina*

        OP specifically mentions needing to source bleach for their homemade version. If they were able to purchase Clorox wipes, the question would not have arisen.

        1. KR*

          I thought they were just adding to the comment, like yes I agree with you and also clorox wipes don’t even have bleach.

  5. Heidi*

    Maybe the boss would be appeased with some nice spray cleaner and paper towels. Isn’t that what we did before wipes were ubiquitous? Also, boss needs to reminded what DIY means.

    1. Guacamole Bob*

      Am I the only one who isn’t using many wipes at home? I bought a 3-pack of canisters early on, but I’ve only used a handful of them.

      We are all working/schooling from home, and only one of us goes to stores or anything, usually once a week or so. We all wash our hands thoroughly when we come in from the outside, including walks. I wash my hands both right when I get home and after I put the groceries away. I wash my hands after I bring in the mail, especially if I pick it up soon after it’s dropped off and not a day or two later.

      And then we mostly just… live our lives at home as normal? Regular spray cleaner to clean surfaces as needed (not disinfecting, which is out of stock most places), regular hygiene, etc. I can’t live my life assuming that every surface in my house might be contaminated. I know it’s technically possible for surface transmission to occur, but the emerging science seems to say that’s a pretty minor risk factor compared to being in the same spaces as other people. And much more of an issue for door handles touched by a lot of people than for my box of Cheerios that was put on the shelf by a single person wearing a mask several hours before I touched it who probably grabbed a different part of the box anyway.

      If these employees are WFH, they may not even really need a lot of wipes.

      1. Amanda*

        You’re not the only one. Washing hands is so much more effective, we barely use wipes at all. And for cleaning groceries or deliveries, a cloth and spray cleaner is enough. I do think groceries, especially stuff you handle regularly (like cereal) or put in the fridge/freezer should be cleaned thoroughly before put away, but wipes are not the only, or even the best, answer.

        But a lot of people are still too panicky to just live their lives mostly as normal.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          In most cases our cereal boxes go from the grocery bag onto the shelf for at least a couple of days before being opened and used, which significantly reduces the already low risk. Even the new gallon jugs of milk typically go in the back of the fridge while we finish the current one.

          The FDA issued guidance about a month ago that there’s no need to routinely wipe down grocery packaging. Now, federal guidance on all sorts of things has changed over time and I understand if people don’t want to rely on it, but it’s one of those things that reasonable people can come to different conclusions on.

        2. Quill*

          Wipes are for disinfecting your high touch surfaces: doorknobs, steering wheel, cell phone… that said I’ve used way less of them than one might think, due to working from home.

          1. ThatGirl*

            And honestly I wouldn’t use standard Clorox or Lysol wipes on my phone, I have special electronics wipes for that/my iPad/laptop etc.

            1. Quill*

              Oh, I use isopropyl alcohol. Clorox is going to do terrible things to your plastics.

          2. Amanda*

            I’d still use spray cleaner and paper or cloth towels for most of these, and wouldn’t use regular wipes on a phone at all.

      2. hbc*

        I’m in the same boat. I think they’re being used at home by people who were probably using them in the pre-pandemic times more than you and I would consider necessary/normal, and people who cohabitate with others whose hygiene they don’t trust.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I think you’re right. And if someone in my family were especially high risk, was still working outside the house, had regular in-person medical appointments, or if we had roommates whose whereabouts we had little control over, I might use wipes more.

      3. EPLawyer*

        Same here. I bought wipes and I mostly use them to clean the laundry baskets after going to the laundromat (we don’t have a washer/dryer). Still have most of the original ONE container I bought.

        Saw a couple weeks ago a scientist saying you don’t have to obsessively clean every surface in the house every hour. It’s not likely to magically appear if no one has gone anywhere.

      4. Dust Bunny*

        I’m not. If I have to run an errand I bring alcohol wipes, but it doesn’t take that many to wipe down my car door handles, hands, steering wheel, etc. I’m using soap at home. We use a few Clorox wipes at work but it’s a very low-traffic environment so there isn’t a need to wipe stuff all the time, all day long.

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        Not using wipes. Spray cleaner and paper towels as before for surfaces. Soap for hands.

      6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Nope. I still have the same container of wipes that I was occasionally using before the world melted, because I’m not worried about surface transmission inside my house (or really outside the house either, for that matter).

      7. LifeBeforeCorona*

        I keep a canister in my car for pumping gas and wiping down shopping carts or anything else that I might touch when I’m outside.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I’ve been meaning to do this but not sure if the heat would dry them out.

          But even if I wiped down every shopping cart handle and gas pump I’ve touched in the last couple of months, I would have used, I don’t know, a dozen wipes? One of the two grocery stores I go to regularly wipes down carts for you (plus I’m only going every other week mostly), and we’re barely driving so we get gas really infrequently. I don’t use a cart at the pharmacy or liquor store or for the one trip I made to get one thing at the local hardware store. It’s easier to just sanitize my hands after dropping off a letter in a USPS box than to wipe down the handle (and same for the gas pump, honestly).

          I recognize that there are all sorts of legitimate reasons to need wipes and they’re hard to come by. But going to great effort to send them to all your WFH employees just seems odd.

      8. Clisby*

        Nope, not just you. I have some disinfecting wipes that I bought early on, but I use them only in cleaning the bathrooms. I use a spray bottle of my normal water-bleach solution wiping down kitchen counters. (Not necessarily because of Covid-19; it seems prudent to clean surfaces where you prepare your food.)
        The three of us hardly ever go out except for grocery shopping, and occasionally a pharmacy. We don’t visit anyone, and no one visits us. I’m not all that worried about getting infected from surfaces in my house.

      9. BeesKneeReplacement*

        Same. I had a new canister on hand when this started due to a spectacular baby poop incident. I’ve used it a few times for the shopping cart and keypad at the grocery store, but that’s it so we have a bunch of wipes left.

      10. nnn*

        Same here. I’m using soap as the tool of first resort for any extra COVID-related cleaning because teh virus has an outer lipid layer, so my wipe use hasn’t increased significantly. I had a couple of canisters on hand when this all started, I haven’t seen wipes back in stores yet, but I still have plenty of wipes at home.

        I also have rubbing alcohol and bleach on hand, in addition to my normal range of household cleaning products, so wipes just aren’t high priority. Although I can imagine how they might be higher priority for people who are out of the house and don’t have steady access to soap and water.

      11. Ana Gram*

        I have a couple canisters but I just use them to clean the cat box. I think I got the 3 pack a year ago and I’m only on the second canister. I’m concerned about covid, of course, but I’m also relatively confident in my ability to avoid getting sick. I’m pretty good at it overall so why not now? I work in public safety so I’m around my fair share of germs but I wash my hands and am careful about what I touch. The run on Clorox wipes kind of confuses me.

      12. KR*

        Same. I saw the writing on the wall when wipes got harder to find and bought 2 tubes when the pandemic started, but honestly have not used them. I use a paper towel or cloth and spray cleaner mostly BECAUSE I know wipes are hard to come by. They’ve always seemed wasteful to me.

        I will say disinfecting wipes are nice when you have to tidy your bathroom really quick. That’s about all I use them for and I’ll use 1 or 2 only.

  6. nnn*

    The weird thing in #1 is their boss has them shopping retail in-person and paying retail prices! Regardless of whether the intention is to help out co-workers or to find stuff the boss can’t find herself, surely a better way to do so through office/business/wholesale suppliers that aren’t available to individual consumers?

    (I don’t know whether they’d necessarily have wipes either, but if the wipes are at Costco, your co-workers can get them themselves, whereas if they’re at a business supply place or a wholesaler, your co-workers can’t get at them but the employer might be able to.)

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Wholesale suppliers don’t have wipes either – manufacturers are saying that we shouldn’t expect to see them again until July or August. But the company should still at least reach out to their current supplier and ask what they do have available and just buy in bulk. It’s a business need, so should be expensed by the business, not OP.

      1. valentine*

        their boss has them shopping retail in-person and paying retail prices!
        It makes sense if the boss is mostly using OP1 as a personal assistant.

      2. EPLawyer*

        which is a whole other matter. Is LW1 being reimbursed for the expense of getting these things? If so when? Right as she turns in the receipts or six months from now.

        If boss thinks this is such a great thing for boss to do for the team, boss should be out there getting stuff.

    2. WellRed*

      I think wondered this. I’m all about buying local but this is a situation that screams for online ordering.

      1. Grits McGee*

        I wonder if the boss gave LW#1 a tight deadline to get these care packages sent out, which made online ordering less of an option.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Especially considering that shipping is taking so long since so many people are doing it.

    3. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

      For what it’s worth, my bosses are working on a “return to the office” plan and asked me to start sourcing the supplies they requested. While they said to start with our typical suppliers, they said if I couldn’t source the needed supplies from there to then check Sam’s Club/Costco, so my guess is the boss just wants the supplies and doesn’t care how they get it/what they pay for it.

      (I’m in a similar situation to OP where I can’t find anything they requested, let alone near the quantities they requested, and am trying to strongly recommend we don’t push forward with this return plan given the worries about being able to consistently provide these products. We’ll see if anybody listens to me.)

      1. My Dog Wiggles*

        Our office manager is in the same position. We have a reopening plan (delayed with the current spike in cases) and she’s stuck going from retail store to retail store looking for the supplies to make it happen (despite the current spike in cases).

        1. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

          Ugh, I worry that this is the next step and I really don’t feel comfortable doing that, but I also don’t know that I have any standing to push back (only started in October). At least I have Alison’s phrasing to try, but nobody’s paying attention to my “We cannot reliably provide the supplies that will keep our staff safe” messages yet so who knows. My solidarity and hopes for continued health to your office manager!!

      2. KR*

        I have to try and get some dust masks and I’m in the same boat. And this is for already postponed work, we’re essential workers, this is for essential work on power transmission equipment (noting because a lot of companies have a relaxed idea of “essential”). And my coworkers really need them to do their work safely but I just don’t know if we can get any right now.

    4. Jennifer Juniper*

      Why do I have the feeling the boss is making OP #1 paying for this stuff out of their own pocket and not reimbursing them?

  7. PollyQ*

    #4 — I once started a job where they did need me to take a scheduled 2-week training pretty much right away, but I was able to negotiate an unpaid week off after that, which I needed for a cross-country move. I was able to apartment-hunt while I wasn’t in the class, so it worked out fine for me. If you don’t have anything as obviously crucial as a move, you might be able to swing the week by saying “personal business” or something like that.

    1. WellRed*

      Most reasonable jobs will allow you to start a bit later without you needing to justify it. People don’t think they can ask.

      1. Liz*

        I’ve done this both times with my last two jobs; taken a week in between, and just asked if my start date could be x date, giving me a week to tie up lose ends. Since i knew i wouldn’t be able to take any time off for a while after starting. It was never an issue.

        1. jen hen*

          I have too – they called on a Friday and wanted me to start that Monday. I asked if I could start the following Monday instead, and the HR rep said “Oh! Um… let me call your new supervisor and check on that?” I could tell she wasn’t used to folks asking this. I got my extra week, though, and it didn’t affect anything at all about the job (still employed at the same place).

      2. Filosofickle*

        I agree. You have more leverage at this moment than you will for a long time. It’s definitely a time to ask.

        That said, employers may push back once or twice before ultimately agreeing to a delayed start date. They’ll give reasons like onboarding dates or how busy the department is. Sometimes there is a good reason one should bend for, but mostly they can wait. A colleague recently went through this and was told the start date was not flexible due to monthly onboarding dates. She’s young and just accepted that, but later found out she absolutely could have started a week later. Others did.

    1. PollyQ*

      They really are, because the issue isn’t just going to go away. LW is going to follow up, and each time she does, it’ll be more person-hours spent on the issue. It’s not going to take very long before the actions defending their choice cost them that $750 anyway. That’s not even taking into account the real possibility that LW might eventually go public with this, which might cost them goodwill with customers & other potential employees.

      1. Lady Heather*

        Good point.

        And you can do that, OP, you can keep following up just for the principle of the thing.

        My relative got a parking ticket for parking – in a safe place – in a no parking area when he went to get his kid (who was in a wheelchair and couldn’t come out without help) out of school. When they arrived at the car, a parking officer was just writing a ticket and was extremely rude when my relative tried to explain the situation.
        So relative fought that parking ticket in court, knowing he’d probably lose, but just so that the gov’t wouldn’t have a ‘net gain’ on the ticket.
        He expected to lose, but the judge lowered the fine to half of the previous amount. :-) So it was a win that way as well.

        1. Amanda*

          Uhh, but it was a no parking zone, so the ticket was valid and should stand? I get what you’re saying, and the officer cetainly shouldn’t have been rude. But your relative was in the wrong, and I don’t consider the lower fine as a win, for society at least, since he’ll just repeat the same error in the future.

          In any case, OP can definitely look at both legal and media action. And just saying that she is could be enough to have the company reconsider before she has to actually begin proceedings. But it’ll likely burn that bridge (probably not a bad thing if this is how they do business), which OP should consider if going this road.

          1. Aquawoman*

            There are so many problems with this kind of thinking. For one, the justice system decides what to enforce and the degree of penalty to be applied based on circumstances all the time. Secondly, not all laws actually serve the public interest. Here, there was apparently no parking for disabled people and we have no idea why it was a no-parking zone or if a different law regarding that spot would serve the public interest better.

          2. Lady Heather*

            Valid criticism, especially since I missed a couple of details and got one wrong (parking vs loading/unloading).

            It was a no parking zone, yes – the parking zone started four feet further (but was full). However, getting your disabled kid out of school qualifies as loading and unloading, which would have been allowed in the place where he was (wasn’t) ‘parked’.

            According to the judge, what he did wrong was that he didn’t have his hazard lights on (which you’re supposed to have on when loading/unloading in a non-parking space), and not that he was parked wrongly.

            However, the reason my relative was angry enough to go to court in a (wholly uncharacteristic; he’s extremely mellow) passive-agressive move was because the parking officer was rude and refused to even let him finish his sentence, and basically called him a criminal and a bad parent. What probably also played a part was that he shouldn’t have had to pick up his kid: the county has a legal responsibility to get disabled kids to school, but the county felt ‘we don’t have a system for that, we’ve never had this request before!’ was some kind of extenuating circumstance to not have to arrange (or even reimburse) for said transportation.

            1. Amanda*

              Oh, ok, this does change things. This being a loading zone, your relative had a perfect right to get his child and *load* them into the car. The fact it takes a bit longer with disabled people don’t change his right to do that.

              I’m sorry if I came off overly critical, but I’ve seen SO. MANY. disabled people park in no-parking zones 10 meters away from a disabled parking spot, I guess it just triggered me. I have a disability myself, and know a lot of disabled people, but as with any large group, there are a lot of entitled idiots among us.

              1. Lady Heather*

                Nah, I didn’t think you were overly critical – I agree in principle; wasting government money just raises taxes or at least moves them away from where they were most needed. The details I included were enough to make my point for the OP, but your reaction was appropriate given the details I didn’t include.
                I also don’t drive, so I honestly hadn’t given any thought to there being a difference between loading/unloading and parking.

                Disabled myself. We don’t deserve a free pass – and our parents don’t either. Pet peeve – parents who feel they are entitled to things because their kid is disabled. Yeah, no. Caring for your kid makes you a parent; caring for a disabled kid makes you a parent; it doesn’t make you an angel or a saint or someone who can do no wrong.
                (Letting disabled people get away with things ‘because they must have such a hard life’ and letting parents of disabled people get away with things ‘because they must have such a hard life, having to care for the child they chose to have’ is sooo ableist and dehumanizing and makes me want to puke.)

          3. Total*

            But your relative was in the wrong, and I don’t consider the lower fine as a win, for society at least, since he’ll just repeat the same error in the future

            If by “repeating his error” you mean making sure that his child is safe, then I’m all in favor of him repeating his error.

  8. Well...*

    #3, another consideration is that academic interviews require a TON of work to be properly prepared and are gruelling on their own. If you’re not excited about the job, you may not prepare at the level you need to (to some in competition this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity) and the fact that you’re heart isn’t in it can come out in the multi-day marathon.

    Not only does it risk hurting your reputation, but the practice itself won’t be that useful if you’re not invested.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      That’s a good point. Not to mention that preparing a job application package is several days work – CV (which in academia can easily be 10 pages long), list of publications, 5 year research plan tailored to the new institute, essay on your teaching philosophy, plan for diversity initiatives. If you get an interview – preparing a couple of talks and maybe a practice lecture, researching the department, flying out for a couple of days of grueling interviews. If you half-ass it, it will be obvious, and your practice interview will have turned into a public disaster.

      Also worth considering – you may be a good candidate for the job, but that’s no guarantee that you’re actually going to get an interview for a particular job. So you could be putting all the effort into preparing an application package, send it off, and hear crickets.

      1. Daisy*

        Yes, the points made above about putting other people out are fair, but I also don’t think OP has thought through the cost to herself. It’s not free practice – it’s practice that will put her out a couple of days of preparing the application package, a couple of days of interview prep, a couple of days for travel and interview. That seems like a waste of your own valuable hours in the name of *maybe* it will help you get a job you *might* want in a few years. Putting that extra 6 days into your research will probably be more fruitful in terms of employability.

      2. Dr. Rebecca*

        I saw a friend on twitter say that she’d sent out 150 apps, gotten 10 phone screenings, two zoom interviews, and no campus visits. The ROI here is so tiny it’s almost invisible.

    2. PB*

      This is very true! I spend about as much preparing for the presentation as I would a conference presentation. In fact, I turned my last interview presentation into two conference presentations and I’m working on publishing a (cleaned up, expanded) version as an article.

    3. Smithy*

      From all of the academics reporting – I completely take you at your work that the level of effort required to apply means that for “practice”, even the submission could be overwhelming.

      However, as a non-academic, I will say that being in “interview shape” is something I achieve through interviewing regularly. I am in a sector where there are likely multiple rounds of phone/in-person (in the pre-COVID days) interviews, most ranging from 30-90 minutes at most. For someone to do the first HR interview, then the second interview, and then withdraw from the running – in my sector provided you were very professional/polite – it’s hard to imagine that receiving much notice. And personally, I do notice that it helps me gain comfort in the process as well as making sure I’m updating my resume once a year or so.

      Are there any opportunities for academics to get a similar experience that’s both real enough to be a genuine test, but not one where the bar to entry is so high to disincentive the OP and anger the interviewer?

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        Not really. If you pass the phone screen and possibly an initial skype/zoom interview, you’ll get invited to a “campus visit.” They usually invite 2 or 3 candidates, and select from those.

        Campus visits are generally a 1 to 3 day smorgasbord of meetings, dinners, and presentations. You meet with the department, the deans, other related faculty departments, students, and the like, as well as doing a “job talk” (a 45 minute presentation about your research), and a teaching session (teaching one class period, with the topic not generally chosen by you.

        From the minute you step off the plane to the minute you leave again, you are being interviewed. There’s no “off” time during that potentially three day period. You are under scrutiny for the whole length of the campus visit. Your clothing is scrutinized, as is how often you check your phone, the manners *and* mannerisms you display, and what you choose to order at the meals.

        It is excruciating. I’ve never done one, but I have talked to many people who have, and it’s just not something you can do a trial run for.

        1. anonymous 5*

          Co-signed. People talk about job-searching being like dating; an academic search in that metaphor would be more explicitly spouse-hunting, especially if we’re talking TT. Both the school and the applicant need to get as clear of a picture as possible of whether they can envision this person being part of the College or University community/whether they can see themselves being so for *their entire career*. Even being hired onto a TT in the first place is both an opportunity and a risk for an applicant: if you leave your position, at any point, for any reason, you will have a *lot* of explaining to do, plus a lot of stigma to overcome if you’re seeking another academic appointment. The school, meanwhile, wants to see the evidence that the applicant not only is the proverbial “good fit,” (and boy, does that ever get exploited in some disgusting ways if you’re female and/or POC) but also has an established track record to suggest that their work will tangibly benefit the institution–whether that’s in grant overhead, prestige publications, teaching excellence, or other stuff.

          The process is nuts, the positions are few and far between in the best of circumstances, and the stakes are high. Even if you could do a trial run, I’m not sure it would be a pleasant experience!

          1. bleh*

            It’s a marathon to be sure. I would never willingly do another on campus interview unless I were actually trying to get to another institution. Alas, there are no jobs in my sub-field listed anymore, so it won’t be an issue. USA! USA! Anti-intellectual USA!

    4. biobotb*

      Exactly. Even if they don’t figure out you’re just there for practice, you’ll have made a poor impression as a sub-standard candidate.

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      This was my thought as well. Sounds like a lot of work for something you’re absolutely not invested in that could well be spent doing something a lot more useful.

  9. AnotherSarah*

    OP #3, another thing to consider: not all university administrations will authorize that a “failed” search (that is, they were unable to hire) be conducted again the next year. Basically, if they have 3 on-campus interviews, and all three turn it down (or 1 was totally unacceptable or whatever), the department loses the ability to hire for that position. It’s really crappy.

    The only way in which this might both benefit you and not be really crappy is if you could leverage a TT offer into one from your current university–if they’d possibly convert your line to a tenure-track one. Maybe they would–I’ve seen it happen–but not necessarily, and you’d have to know the hiring policies very well.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      And what I mean by “not be really crappy” is more that this happens all the time–people interview more for leverage at their current positions rather than actually wanting the position they’re up for. So, I guess, still crappy but normal in academia at least at certain schools.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Oh yeah, this is also a good point. I’ve never had a failed search, but I know folks who have and it’s a bear to deal with the fall out. Personally, I’ve had candidates do the leverage thing and in a small field- I remember them and I lose a lot of respect for them in that process.

      1. Overeducated*

        If this is the only way to get a raise/job security, though, it’s kind of an HR policy problem more than an individual character issue. Especially if the candidate would have taken the new job if they didn’t get a counteroffer from their current institution; in that case, they really are looking for the best option.

        1. Paulina*

          If they would have taken the new job, yes. If not, then it might be considered an HR policy problem, but it’s something that hurts the less desirable institutions due to policies at more desirable ones. Smaller universities and those in more remote places deserve better than to have their hiring messed up by people who are treating interviewing there as learning experience, leverage, or a free trip across the country.

    3. DieTrying*

      Yes, this. Especially smaller, or more remote institutions face this possibility a lot. I’ve seen it happen a few times in both the humanities and social sciences: in a couple of cases, the departments had to wait a few years to try again, in others, the slot was just lost entirely.

      OP, in some ways these things are the cost of doing business, of course, but I would strongly discourage you from applying for jobs you would not be at least willing to consider seriously accepting if offered. You can and should get practice interviewing in other ways, however: ask your academic friends to put together a mock interview (by Zoom! The new normal!) for you, invite local mentors to hear you give a faux job talk, etc.

      I don’t know your field, but I will also suggest gently that it may be worth to find out as much as you can about what a TT entails at your institution. In other words, less work in some ways tends to translate into more work in others (committees, admin, “service”, etc). That may be what you want for yourself — many do! — but I also know a lot of brilliant scholars and teachers who have opted for the contract route because it allows them to maximize what they love and avoid some of what they don’t. YMMV. Good luck on whatever you decide to pursue!

      1. Harper the Other One*

        This is VERY important. My father was a tenured professor who ended up as chair of his department because… well, he spent his career there and eventually he was the one name left who hadn’t held the role. He loved being in the lecture hall and lab and really disliked being pulled away from those for administrative and political work (and it didn’t help that part of his term included removing a lab from a professor emeritus who started sexually harassing administrative staff.)

        If you don’t want a tenure track position and all it entails, some universities here have started moving to a long-term contract model where you still do more of the teaching and research but where you have more security, so it might be worth asking your current institution about that.

  10. FRMRVM*

    Homemade sanitizing wipes: I’ve tried to get supplies together to make some for my own home. There are still limitations on what you can buy at a store. Think one bottle of rubbing alcohol (you’ll probably need more than one to make one set of wipes)! Please, please stand up to your boss and decline to make these for the staff! You’ll be driving all over creation and exposing yourself to countless people to get the supplies. And it will all be for naught…no one will use “homemade” wipes made by someone else!

    1. Pennyworth*

      I think it would be approprite to say (in writing) that you aren’t confident you could make wipes that were guaranteed to be safe and effective. If pushed, ask for a personal liability waiver (in writing!).

    2. JerryLarryTerryGarry*

      And how long would they be effective? The stabilizing agents won’t be in diy stuff. And then- are you shipping them? Safely?

    3. Gazebo Slayer*

      Rubbing alcohol is really hard to find right now. My job requires it, and I searched 4 different stores with no luck.

  11. Diahann Carroll*

    OP #5, I agree with Alison – let go of the dream of Job A. They told you they don’t know when they’ll be able to bring anyone new onboard, but Job B has given you an offer. Take it. Unless you absolutely hated the job once you went through the interview process and there were red flags flying all around, I think you’ll kick yourself if you bank on Job A and let the sure thing go and then don’t get Job A either.

    1. OP #5*

      This is great advice! I agree with Alison, I shouldn’t count on what wasn’t a real offer. Unfortunately, I am impatient and anxious and maybe making less measured decisions while in quarantine hell so I already emailed Job A :P I hope if they were really interested that it won’t hurt me to much, and I think it will help me to move on if they come back with more vagueness.

      Also, I did get some red flags in the research I did and a follow-up conversation I had with Job B after I sent this letter, so I’m not going to go with that job after all. Which makes this a little less stressful – I’ll just resume my job search and try not to hope in the back of my mind that job A materializes after all.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Ah, okay. Well, it’s encouraging that you already had one firm offer and a maybe, so if you resume your search, I’m confident you’ll be able to find something shortly. Good luck!

  12. Eng*

    OP #1’s boss be like, I know how I can show support for workers during covid, I’ll force OP to go to crowded public places over and over again!

    1. Kaaaaaren*

      And force her to spend hours breathing in chemicals to produce an item that, if her coworkers wanted them, they would have found a way to produce by now.

  13. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

    So this is what we are doing at Wakeen’s during the pandemic, we’re the place that businesses are ordering these supplies online. (Sourcing is FUN let me tell you. I didn’t have the ten years it has taken off my life to spare, honestly.)

    If you are ordering in (small) case lots, you can order online and not drive all around town — but the online marketplace has been littered with shady sellers also so I can understand someone giving up and driving around.

    Do. Not. Make. Your. Own. Wipes. For. Employees.
    For the love of god, OP’s boss.

    Alcohol wipes are scarce and expensive. BZK wipes are starting to come through. We sell out the same day we get a shipment but we’re getting shipments in. Idk when Clorox and Lysol are on the market. I was given the opportunity this week to sell Clorox wipes. I would have had to sell them at $22 a canister. I’m like OKAY NO, I am passing on this opportunity. They would have sold out but I probably would have ended up on a internet most wanted list somewhere just putting that stuff online at that price.

    Businesses do want wipe because they are part of the CDC protocol for reopening but if you can’t get lysol or clorox (you can’t), I don’t see what is any different about a bottle of 63%+ sanitizer and a roll of paper towels from a disinfecting wipe. I personally choose alcohol spray + towels over BZK wipes, because alcohol is better rated against cornoavirus but I can tell you the demand for wipes is huge. People want wipes.

    (p.s. the sanitizer shortage is over. Idk what the retail chain looks like but the business chain has a lot of sanitizer working its way through now)

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Name brand sanitizers with isopropyl alcohol are still missing from a lot of retail stores, but generic brands with ethyl alcohol are starting to pop up on retailers’ websites for sale at, IMO, ridiculous prices.

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        Iso is going to be hard to come by for awhile. We just got a shipment of iso gel WITH A PUMP (there is another shortage for you, the pump shortage has been crazy) and it is flying.

        Prices are going down fast. I don’t know when the reductions hit retail, but my costs and sell prices are down 30% in the last two weeks. You can start to be picky and wait for better options if you are not literally out of sanitizer.

        (there is nothing wrong with ethyl but it’s a crapshoot for smells. there is perfectly fine ethyl and bad tequila cocktail ethyl)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Good to know, thanks! I’m not in desperate need of hand sanitizer right now since I work from home full time and can just wash my hands with soap and water, but I was using my isopropyl alcohol to spray down packages and grocery items when they were delivered to me, so that’s why I keep looking (in case I run out).

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        Watch some idiot teen get hold of ethyl alcohol sanitizer, drink it, and get the poor company sued by the idiot teen’s parents.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Huh? Ethyl alcohol sanitizer isn’t a new thing people are cooking up in backyard stills.

        2. JustaTech*

          This has been a problem for years in hospitals that people with alcohol addiction would drink the alcohol-based hand sanitizer, even if it wasn’t ethanol-based. (Don’t drink isopropanol!) A lot of places switched to lotion-based hand sanitizer to keep people from trying to drink it (and it’s much nicer on your skin).

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Yeah, isopropanol will kill you dead.

            Off-topic, why don’t they make methyl alcohol hand sanitizers? I know methanol is also super poisonous and will kill you dead, but does it absorb through the skin, or is isopropanol just safer?

        3. Idril Celebrindal*

          The places that I know of that are doing this are including additives to make them un-drinkable and clearly labeling it. Our local stores are stocking sanitizer that has been made by local distilleries that transformed their production lines to producing sanitizer instead of liquor, and they are definitely treating the alcohol. It’s actually been really cool to see the local responses to this, and the way the chain groceries are supporting local businesses.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        IME, most name brands use denatured ethanol, not isopropyl alcohol.

        I actually went looking at formulations, regulations, and sourcing for denatured ethanol. My conclusion? It was waaay to big of a PITA to try to make small lots, and any company making this stuff in medium to large lots still has to jump through regulatory hoops.

        1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

          There’s nothing wrong with ethyl. The challenge right now is that in answer to the severe shortage, all kinds of sources for ethyl were being grabbed and used and many if not most of the sources have a smell ranging from slightly to severely unpleasant. Mfg were switching sources in the middle of runs, so there’s not necessarily consistency by name or date purchased or anything.

          Purell uses ethyl and doesn’t smell bad because their ethyl sources are consistent and they have formulated what their product smells like over years. Well you can’t get purell, and the same is not true for all of the people making sanitizer to fill the void. There is a lot of stuff that does not smell good at all on the market right now.

          Is that the worst problem when it indeed actually works? It’s not the worst problem. But is a challenge for business buyers and sellers, whereas, if you see iso on the label (we have two iso products), you don’t have the same worries.

          (I just had a customer two minutes ago who I grabbed the smell question from. She had gotten from another source sanitizer she described as stinking. I said, okay, you should buy these two iso products — not the size she was looking for — and I can’t really recommend anything else to you, since scent is an important factor to you.)

    2. Fikly*

      If you don’t mind, do you have any advice on getting the little wipes diabetics use before finger sticking? My supply is starting to run low and I’m having trouble finding them.

      1. Fulana del tal*

        Alcohol prep pads. If you search that term places to buy pop up. They’re available at Walmart and Amazon if you mind buying from those places.

        1. Fikly*

          Thanks! I try to avoid them, but sometimes I give in. My usual diabetic supply places are completely out.

          1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

            Yes. The pads are out there. They wouldn’t be out there if they weren’t so small. Production has definitely been impacted, but the pads are available in places like Fdt said.

          2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

            Price is probably going to be a problem with them though. I hope it works out okay for you. I have not priced prep pads (because that’s not what we sell), but between the skyrocketing cost of alcohol and the wipe material, you might find the price to be multiples what you paid last time.

            I hope that is not the case!

          3. Jedi Squirrel*

            Office Depot also has them for a not-completely-ridiculous price. They are available on Amazon at ridiculous prices. It helps to sort by lowest cost first, and then to skip past the sponsored ads.

      2. Lady Heather*

        Chlorhexidine is not effective against coronavirus, but it’s what they use in my country for blood draws. Maybe prep pads with that are easier available and will meet your needs?
        (Caveat: the stuff they use for blood draws contains chlorhexidine, I don’t know what other things it contains that make it safe for blood draws and that might make it be sold out due to corona. I just know that I’m allergic to chlorhexidine and that that’s in the liquid and pads the hospitals use.)

        1. Lady Heather*

          *I meant to say wipes, not prep pads. I think. Translating subtle medical terminology from one language to another is.. not my specialty.

    3. I Love Llamas*

      We are using an alcohol-based sanitizer made by a local distillery as both a hand sanitizer and as a sanitizing spray for work areas. Could it end up damaging some of the furniture? Possibly depending on the surface, but we are having a hard time sourcing enough product so we are working with what we have. At least we know the alcohol content is high enough to do the job. Personally, I prefer soap & water…..

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        Yeah, it could, but I would personally only trust alcohol or bleach on surfaces. This is based on what I have read from informed sources. I would not disinfect surfaces with soap and water.

        Am I right?


        But that is what I would do, what you are doing.

        1. Quill*

          Soap and water is good for hands, sterilizing hard surfaces it’s probably best for laypeople to use commercial disinfectants or alcohol.

          Were I in a lab at this point, I’d be running the UV sterilizer every day, but that’s hardly household equipment.

    4. Hillary*

      We’ve heard there’s still a sanitizer shortage in the business chain in Canada. Store brand sanitizer has been on the shelf at my local Target the last couple grocery trips.

    5. Indy Dem*

      I remember reading one of your posts soon after people starting making a run on cleaning products, TP, etc. I thought – this person’s job is going to suck for a long while. How have things been for you?

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        Ha ha, it’s horrible. But we are working! <3

        Honestly, it is rewarding to connect people to product they need, and it is rewarding to keep our people working, but the fluctuations in the market are beyond nerve wracking. Idk how we all get back to "normal" but the old days of a couple of months ago look peaceful and serene to me (they weren't actually, just they weren't this).

  14. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Will the boss be requiring OP go out to buy ‘anti-5G’ devices for people’s care packages too? /humour

    There’s a point where making something yourself is far more inconvenient and risky than trying to buy it, and that point is driving around multiple stores to get ingredients for something that won’t work well anyway.

    Don’t put yourself at personal risk to fulfil your manager’s inane ideas.

    1. MsSolo*

      Ooh, OP should get the £339 USB ones with a sticker on! It’s holographic, you see. Very important thing to charge to the company’s expense account.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I got a sensible chuckle out of this!

      “We’ve also included a roll of tin foil and directions for making a hat.” /h

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I saw an article on BBC News about it (yes it’s over here too….sigh) and just laughed. It’s just so ridiculous, I reckon stand up comics are going to have material for years after this virus crisis settles down.

    3. KoiFeeder*

      FWIW, there are valid criticisms to be raised wrt planned obsolescence and its viability outside of cities (and, frankly, viability outside of large cities), but that’s very different from 5G causing coronavirus and transing your gender.

  15. Avasarala*

    #4 Literally everyone does this! It’s so common and expected that I doubt anyone else will comment on it because it’s so obviously OK to do!

    Remember, you negotiate your end date between you and company A, and you negotiate your start date between you and company B. They don’t negotiate with each other. They are negotiating with you and what your availability is. You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission. You are in control.

    You do not have to spend your entire life working. In the grand scheme of things, it is actually very odd for animals to spend most of their day doing something else so that they can eat, care for their young, etc.!
    I would encourage you to take two weeks off, or more, as much as you can afford without really screwing over each company. It is so crucial to reset and remember that we are humans first and workers second. We are not our productivity. Take a break!

    1. Mockingjay*

      I’ve taken a week off between jobs to relax and vacation. I heartily recommend it.

      Keep in mind that most jobs start with zero leave and have to accrue for several months before you can take any.

    2. Allonge*

      Exactly – that is your life, LW4, not leave! Especially if you are too tired to see this, please take a break – even two weeks if you can afford it.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yes a lot of people do this, but the LW wrote in because we’re mostly working from home now. And as we’ve seen, many managers/companies seem to think that working from home = available 24/7. I don’t think it’s unusual for this question to come up.

      I just realized the other day that I’ve only taken 2.5 days of my PTO this year and we were just acquired by a company with a “use it or lose it”policy. I can’t travel, so I wasn’t taking off for much, plus I felt weird taking off to sit in my house. I know my manager wouldn’t care if I took PTO, but WFH puts people in a different mindset.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I just took a bunch of PTO (stretched over a two-month period) because it was about to expire. I’d had a week planned for an event that was canceled due to Covid. I did not feel weird taking the PTO days and enjoyed my time off. Though we did have someone in the leadership casually mention it that “of course, you guys can’t really take PTO right now, because you have nowhere to go”. “Can’t”, hopefully, being “you wouldn’t enjoy taking it” vs “you aren’t, or shouldn’t be, allowed”. Well I am here to report that I did enjoy it! Just not having to log into work for a day was very relaxing to me. Now that I think of it, maybe it would behoove those of us who have PTO and can take it, to take a bit every now and then, otherwise we’ll create a mindset in our employers that we don’t need time off anymore; which would make it harder to take it later, if WFH extends for a longer time.

        1. Original Sally*

          I agree. And back when almost everyone was NOT WFH, people sometimes took PTO and don’t go anywhere. What you do with your time off is not relevant.

      2. Allonge*

        I understand that it’s a bit weird – on the other hand, just how toxic is a culture that makes people hesitate to give themselves a few days’ break, when they are _tired_, literally between jobs, and can afford it otherwise?

        This is not against the OP – they are probably too tired to think straight if this is even a question. But again, how toxic is the attitude that you should not take a break unless you Do Something with it, e.g. travel?

        1. Avasarala*

          Exactly: “But again, how toxic is the attitude that you should not take a break unless you Do Something with it, e.g. travel?”

          How often have you watched ducks in a pond, and just see them sort of swim around, they go over here, then they sit for a minute, quack, then go over here… they don’t seem to really *do* anything, do they? Why do we have to fill our waking hours with activities that contribute to something? That produce something? How productive would you say your pets are, or any random human from across history?

          “I can’t travel, so I wasn’t taking off for much, plus I felt weird taking off to sit in my house.”
          I encourage you to reexamine this. What is so weird about taking time off to sit in your house? It’s time spent with yourself, not on work. It has meaning to you alone, meaning you get to define! What could be more precious than that?

      3. Batty Twerp*

        But it’s important to point out that “Brain tired! Brain need rest!” is *more* prevalent now we’re all WFH and you should be able to take PTO or a week between jobs to give yourself a break, even if you don’t plan to go anywhere.
        In the 9 or 10 weeks since we started working from home, I’ve taken 4 days leave (2 in previous leave year which ended in March and 2 in the current year). I’m due to take another 5 days in June (I’m in the UK, so I’ve got 28 days to play with). We’re not going anywhere, even with the lockdown easing. It’s a strange thing, but apart from the actual location of my workspace, very little about this current situation has come as a culture shock – I’m still getting up at the same time, dressing in my normal clothes (minus shoes). My commute was only ever 15 minutes so I’m not gaining an awful lot of extra time in the day. So our week in June is going to be spent painting the garden shed, having picnics on the patio and catching up on some reading. All the things I would have done anyway with a week off work – and what I (personally) need to relax and recharge.

  16. Kay*

    #1 From a OSHA/Safety standpoint. If a company is going to provide sanitizer wipes for an employee, they would need to “communicate the hazard” to the employee. The sanitizer wipes would be considered a chemical. And in communicating that hazard to the employee, they would also need to provide the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for that sanitizer wipe. The one that is homemade. Which means you can’t just collect all the SDS’s from all the chemicals you used.

    And a second issue, which may not be an issue and would depend on the chemicals you used in the sanitizer wipes, is that you may have a Department of Transportation (DOT) issue. The DOT has certain regulations on the shipment of chemicals.

    And this does not even include container labeling! My safety heart cringes at this idea.

    1. Morning reader*

      I don’t know the post office reps on this but they always ask if there are batteries or flammable liquids in the package. You might not be able to mail sanitizer and wipes.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        But you can mail soap and cloths without any problem, so ditch the chemicals and get some lovely soap in a gift box. And soap is even more effective than sanitiser, which was invented only for hospital staff who just don’t have time to go to the bathroom (leading to an increase in the midwife’s vocational disease, bladder infection.

      2. Saberise*

        In all likelihood the boss is going to expect her to drive all over and deliver them in person. In would be in keeping with everything else she’s asked her to do.

    2. Mockingjay*

      The post office asks about hazardous and flammable materials for every package.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Oh I love this. “Well Boss, I would love to do the DIY wipes, but OSHA would have a heart attack.”

    4. anon nonnie*

      These sound scary to me. I could see my kids opening these and playing with the wipes. They know not to touch cleaning products stored in the containers they come in the store from. But if they are just in some regular clear container? Or something else? They could dump bleach all over them and potentially my carpet. Nope.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        yeah, looks like there are hazards whichever way you look with this stuff!

    5. Hillary*

      Yes. Hand sanitizer is hazmat and needs to be properly packaged and labeled by a certified professional. There are some limited quantity exceptions, but even so liquids also need proper packaging. Liquids aren’t accepted from individuals by the post office or parcel services. If you ship them without declaration on your UPS or FedEx account and get caught you get fired as a customer.

      Signed, a logistics manager who just outsourced packing hand sanitizer because we don’t have the right certification or labels. We have a certification but not for this product.

    6. KR*

      Yup. You said it so much better than I did. This is not safe, don’t pass go, OP should not do this.

  17. Colette*

    #4 – it’s ok to want time off even if you can’t go anywhere. My schedule is set up so I have every second Friday off, and I love those days – I can get groceries or other supplies when it’s less busy, do projects, or just relax. A week off to decompress between jobs is very reasonable.

  18. Creamsiclecati*

    OP 2, if the company won’t reimburse you and the airline also ends up giving you a hard time for some reason, try calling the credit card company you used to purchase the ticket directly. I’ve heard of a few people being able to get charges taken off their card by the credit card itself if you explain the situation. Some companies are going beyond what they would normally allow customers to do given the uniqueness of the situation we are in right now. If they remove the charge, you would likely lose the airline credit but you would get the $750 back. So that might be a final option you could try if nothing else works.

  19. Richard Hershberger*

    LW3: The advice people have given is very good. If I might be permitted to move onto advice not asked for, what is your long term goal? If you are happy being a non-tenured contract professor indefinitely, then you are doing fine. And who knows? Maybe a local tenure track position will open up and you will be hired. But probably not, and you can’t count on it. Will you be happy in a low-paying contract job ten years from now? If not, then going somewhere else is the price you pay for having a career. I have many friends and relatives in academia, in both the sciences and the humanities. Every single one of them went where the job was, even if that meant moving two thousand miles to a town they had not previously ever heard of. That is just how it is.

  20. Oxford Comma*

    OP #3: I concur with everyone saying not to interview for jobs that you have no intention of taking. It is crystal clear when someone does this and you will find yourself on an unofficial list and burned into the minds of every person on the search committee for perpetuity.

    Couple of alternative suggestions though if you do want practice. Ask people in your field if they would be willing to do a mock interview with you. Alternatively, if you belong to a professional association, some of them have mentoring programs and some offer things like resume/vita reviewing or mock interviews.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I agree but accadmic interviews are a lot different than regular Interviews. They are all day long, with multiple people involved, and depending on the area, often have presentations that the candidate has to do.
      An hour mock interview would not cover all of this.

      1. Oxford Comma*

        Yes, I am aware of this as I am in academia. But you can still practice parts of it and many of the parts are the same, just with different groups. Presentations are tougher as the topics will vary.

        In any case, when you have an interview for a job for which you have a real interest, you are better off practicing with friends or mentors before the interview.

        I have been on search committees with the people who apply for an interview who want a mini vacation or are just “practicing.” Like I said. you get on a list. The candidate shows up again for a job they really want and we remember. Word gets around and it gets around fast.

  21. My Brain Is Exploding*

    #2: try social media. Post on the company’s Facebook page, tweet them, etc.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I wouldn’t recommend this. You don’t want to burn bridges if anyone at this company has connections that could keep OP from getting another job.

      1. Saberise*

        Not only that but other companies may see that out there when they are looking to hire her and pause. She may be in the right on what we are seeing here but some people may not be willing to take the chance that there is more to the story.

  22. RebelwithMouseyHair*

    OP1: Why not put some nice fresh soap in the care package? It’s more effective than sanitiser, kinder on your hands and can be found in ready-made pretty gift boxes. Plus a few cloths that can be soaked in soapy water or bleach or whatever for cleaning stuff. Single-use wipes are non biodegradable and thus have a horrific eco-footprint, cotton cloths are washable and wonderful.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      This doesn’t help her much. She already has the sanitizer hand the masks. The issue is that boss wants be to make DIY cleaning wipes.

    2. Kaaaaaren*

      Why is this the OP’s responsibility at all? I’ve said this elsewhere but this whole assignment is stupid and pointedly a pretty intense assault on OP1’s safety. To make the other employees feel “supported” OP1’s boss has decided to send OP1 on a wild goose chase all over town to procure stuff that the employees are fully capable of getting for themselves, essentially forcing her to break quarantine. And THEN she is supposed to play with smelly chemicals in order to produce sanitizing wipes for the others. The message here is that OP1’s well-being (let alone time, etc.) is fundamentally less valuable than everyone else’s. Everyone else gets to stay in quarantine and await their care packages, while OP1 has to break quarantine repeatedly to put those packages together. WTF. OP1 should look for a new job as soon as she’s able to.

      1. Important Moi*


        I am afraid your comment will be lost in the fray. My first thought reading this was that this should not be something the LW has to do because this is outside the scope of appropriate professional bounds. Instead I see lots of comments about how homemade wipes are less safe?!?! What does that have to do with LWs personal safety being needlessly compromised being going from place to place?

        1. Avasarala*

          Well it’s an important thing to say. Why does the admin have to run around making DIY health kits, endangering herself with little to no benefit to employees?

      2. Arts Akimbo*

        Yeah, I really hate how the admin is being tasked with this. “Sacrifice your physical safety so that others will feel supported, peon!” The boss needs to think it through.

    3. SarahTheEntwife*

      I’m guessing most if not all of the OP’s coworkers have soap. I don’t know about in other areas, but around here while hand sanitizer still might as well be made of uranium, regular soap and body wash and things like that are widely available. The message this would send to me as an employee is “Hi! In order to boost your morale I will imply that you either don’t know about basic personal hygiene and/or we don’t pay you enough to afford soap!”. Not to mention the fact that “fancy” soap tends to be heavily scented, which can be anything from a personal turn-off to a severe allergy.

  23. Agent Diane*

    OP1: push back on this! You are not her personal Martha Stewart / Kirstie Allsop. There’s the issues of liability mentioned above and some suggestions for alternative wipes.

    If your boss is set on sending the care package, you could also suggest getting some gentle, suitable soap and some unperfumed hand lotion. At one point in the UK those were hard to come by, and they are items than can live in a cupboard as emergency supplies or be gifted on.

  24. I'm just here for the cats*

    How about finding a really good recipe for DIY wipes or spray and print it out and include it with the kits?
    And if your boss is having you do this because she wants then, I’d tell her to make them herself.

    1. pancakes*

      How does someone with no knowledge of how wipes are manufactured assess what makes for a good recipe?

    2. Kaaaaaren*

      Honestly, this whole project is ridiculous imo. It’s a waste of OP’s time (Seriously, having this person run all over town looking for supplies? What?), infantalizing to the coworkers (Are they not adults with the capability to shop? Do they not see the news?), and it makes the boss look like an out-of-touch loon (“I want to make my staff feel supported, so I’ll make one of them run all over town collecting supplies and then hand produce an item using chemicals that she will then have to figure out how to safely mail!”).

      OP1: You have already done WAY more than is reasonable with the stupid task you’ve been assigned. Push back on the disinfecting wipes bit of this, mail out the masks and such, and move on with your life. And maybe once all of this is over, if you can, tell your boss this whole assignment was no bueno.

  25. CatPerson*

    OP1, you don’t want to be personally liable for the efficacy of a DIY wipe. And you company should not want to be, either.

  26. Ruby314*

    The argument that the credit in #2 is “essentially like cash” is completely ridiculous. You don’t pay employees in airline credits or Gap gift cards because they are, you guessed it, NOT in fact cash.

    1. Generic Name*

      Ha right? If you can’t pay your rent or buy food with it, it’s not equivalent to cash.

    2. Wehaf*

      Exactly; can OP pay rent with this airline credit? Buy groceries? The company is 100% in the wrong. If I were OP, I would be pushing back on this quite firmly. I would also try appealing to the airline, which, as another posted above mentioned, may be more flexible on refunds than usual.

      1. Liane*

        This is the unstated part of Alison’s script that OP is unable to have this big expense.

    3. LW #2*

      The email from the finance department handling my request actually used the phrase “it essentially is considered like cash.” I was quite surprised!

      1. Dan*

        Ask the finance department if they’d let one of their vendors pay in giftcards instead of cash, then.

        (Do not actually do this, obviously.)

    4. Lynn*

      Do you remember in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” (midway through the series I think) — the kids had to work in a factory that paid its workers in coupons. It was bizarre. This comment just reminded me of that and made me laugh ><

    5. Dahlia*

      You’ll take your chewing gum and coupons at the Lucky Smalls Lumbermill and you’ll like it!

  27. Dr. Rebecca*

    Another point for OP3: The academic job market has been obliterated by COVID. Universities are pulling job ads right and left–unless the job track/line already had guaranteed funding pre-March. People are being urged to take early retirement, most major universities and almost all minor ones have instituted hiring freezes, some aren’t even taking a new class of graduate students for the 2021 fall semester. Now is NOT the time to try to go on the market, whatever the reason.

  28. Delta Delta*

    #3 – The big assumption being made here is that OP will be invited for an interview. Is it worth it to OP to assemble the significant tome of materials needed to apply for an academic job in the hopes she’ll get an interview? Perhaps the exercise of putting things together will a) dissuade OP from doing this or b) cement in her mind that she does want to move on.

  29. Choggy*

    OP #1 The fact that your boss has asked you to find masks and hand sanitizer was overboard as well, because it put you in a position to have to visit many stores to find the items. If you could not order items online, you should not be putting yourself in harm’s way to find them in stores for other people (unless you were doing it for those who could not shop for themselves and were helping them). I sincerely hope you push back on the DIY wipes, many people have commented above what a bad idea this for many reasons. Your boss sucks.

    1. Kaaaaaren*

      This whole project OP1 has been assigned is stupid and unnecessary. Her coworkers are adults and they know the situation — if at this stage they still don’t have masks and whatever else, then that is on them, not on OP or her boss or their company. It’s an enormous waste of time.

  30. Kaaaaaren*

    OP #1: I think this entire project is ridiculous, honestly, even if you aren’t in the end made to produce disinfecting wipes. Why is this your responsibility? Why is it the company’s? Presumably all of your employees are functioning adults with the capabilities to purchase needed items either online or in person at stores, while observing appropriate social distancing. This is a stupid waste of your time and if you can, you should push back on the whole idea.

  31. Super Anon*

    OP5, take the job you’ve been offered. I was in the middle of the hiring process in mid-March for a company. And they did a hiring freeze that was suppose to be over by May 1. And then that turned into June 1. And then July 1. And now it’s on hold for the foreseeable future. To be honest, I would be very surprised if the company from job #1 lifts their hiring freeze this year. Most companies that are concerned their bottom line will be impacted probably will not start hiring again until there is a vaccine and/or the economy is truly on it’s way to recovery. I know it stinks, but in this job market it’s better to take the job you have rather than the one you hope for.

    1. Colette*

      Yeah “hiring freeze” means they aren’t hiring now and don’t know when they will be – and layoffs are also a strong possibility. Don’t count on that job.

  32. Anonymous at a University*

    OP 3, I frankly don’t see why you would even WANT to apply for an interview. It sounds like not only does your job have what you want- except the higher workload (which I assume is teaching because, yeah, I’m TT at a teaching university and actually do teach as much as my non-TT colleagues, plus do service, publication, and conferences, so I’m more than a bit skeptical that the non-TT actually has more work in terms of non-teaching-load)- but that the factors that make you want it are not going to change soon. Your friends and family won’t move away from the city where you are, the CoL in the city is presumably not going to skyrocket, etc. I’d think hard about how likely you are to change your mind about moving, and ask for practice with your friends who are senior professors only when it’s a more definite possibility.

    Also, this isn’t universally the case, but in my experience, non-TT faculty at a university are not an automatic shoo-in for TT-positions at that university, even if they’ve been working there a long time and have an excellent teaching record. Sometimes this is down to sheer prejudice, people on the search committees assuming for stupid reasons that they would have been TT-faculty “already” if they “wanted to.” Other times it’s a search for fresh blood, or because the non-TT faculty don’t have a requirement that the committee really wants. I know someone who’s a lecturer at my university has applied for every open TT position in my field that we had over the last five years, but because she has a Master’s in a related field rather than a Ph.D. in the one they want as her highest degree, the search committees have rejected her each time. If you are planning to remain at your school under the impression that you would pretty much automatically get a TT-position when one opens up, then I would urge you to rethink that and have a backup plan. Good luck!

    1. Academic Addie*

      I agree with all of this. The OP doesn’t seem to have a good sense of the politics and realities of the job market. They say that they could get a tenure-track job at a smaller school or more remote area. But I’ve been on two search committees in the past two years at such a school in STEM, and our applicant pools were extremely deep and well-qualified. Upwards of a dozen publications, teaching experience, service positions. The job market is really difficult right now, and will only become more so. Senior profs can be sort of out-of-touch … I hope this OP isn’t getting tons of bad advice. The fact is that we turn away an incredible amount of qualified young people every time we have a search.

    2. Paulina*

      They might be able to get a TT position at a smaller school that’s more teaching-oriented, since those may be looking for someone with more teaching experience who still does research. But that would make it bad practice for interviewing for more research-oriented positions.

      Frankly, I find the attitude of LW3’s tenured friends, that these smaller-place jobs are fine to use for interview practice in bad faith, to be offensive. Please be wary of their advice, LW3.

  33. Generic Name*

    #2 I disagree that contacting a lawyer is in your best interest over such a small amount. $750 will get you maybe a few hours’ worth of a good lawyer’s time, so at best you would be in the same position you are now (Company reimburses you, you pay lawyer, you are still out the money). You can write them a letter yourself asking that the money be reimbursed. If you have emails detailing your agreement, include those. If not, reference the date of the phone call where reimbursement was promised. Give them a reasonable deadline and state you will take them to small claims court (no lawyer needed for that) if you do not receive the money by the deadline. Send the letter via certified mail so they can’t claim they never got it. I successfully used this method to get a deposit back on an apartment back when I was in college.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Go to a lawyer. Not one in a big office downtown, but a general practitioner in a small, or even solo, firm. Ask what they will charge for a letter on firm letterhead. Don’t pay by the hour, but at a flat rate. It should, depending on where you are, be a couple hundred dollars. The idea is not that you will litigate, but the company doesn’t know that. Lawyer letters often impress their recipients greatly, leading them to do what they should have done anyway.

      1. Generic Name*

        Right but, if the OP can get the same result for free, why pay “a couple hundred dollars” to get $750 back?

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Get the same result how? Asking nicely already has failed. Time to ramp things up. A lawyer letter is the traditional way to do this, the purpose being the implied threat of litigation. I suppose the LW could send a strongly worded letter without a lawyer, but I would be surprised if it worked, or even got a response.

    2. Delta Delta*

      Eh. Or if you contact a lawyer like me I’ll either give pointers on how to file in small claims court (this is a 10 minute convo) or offer to write a letter for a small fee. You don’t know til you ask.

  34. Nerd*


    If you are convinced before you start that you have the absolute best job in the best city with the best conditions and that you would never consider another option, then yes, it makes no sense to interview elsewhere.

    Twenty-six years ago, I interviewed with a company in a small city in a state with a small population: 10x fewer people than where we were living. I told my wife there was no way we were moving to Podunkville. It was a long shot.

    We really liked the town when we visited. The job seemed decent.

    Our children were all born here. They are native Podunkvillians, and we couldn’t imagine staying in Big City.

    And every so often when I make a statement with seeming authority, my wife reminds me that there was “no way” we were moving here. :)

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      Some small towns are great. Some are not. It is hard to tell without actually visiting.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Confirmed. Grew up in a few terrible ones. Have lived in a few great ones. It’s hit-or-miss.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      If I’m in a good situation that I like, I’m not going to throw it away chasing what may or may not be “the absolute best job in the best city with the best conditions.” Chances are I’ll get something that actually isn’t as good as my current situation, and that it’ll be a long time before I’m able to get something as good as what I had.

      Maybe I’m just risk-averse, but my experience has taught me there are a lot of bad jobs out there. Chasing the Best Job Ever just because there *might* be something *perfect* out there is especially short-sighted in an economic situation like the current disaster.

      Also – the smaller the town, the harder it is to find friends if you don’t fit in with whatever the dominant social group is. This is especially true for children in small schools, which are often miserable for “weird” kids. (Speaking from experience.)

      Not to mention all the other reasons a small town may be unpleasant, impractical, or even unsafe for people of color, LGBTQ+ people, or people who need public transit because of disabilities or because they can’t afford a car.

  35. Dagny*

    LW3: Do not have people spend time and money on you for your own gratification. It is awful to be a potential employee whose time is wasted when it is apparent that they have no intention of hiring you; do not make employers do the same thing.

    You are also not understanding how small academia is. If you actually get a job offer and turn it down to continue in your non-tenure track role, do not be surprised when future interviews are not forthcoming.

    If you need to know how to succeed in interviews, find a trusted mentor and ask the hiring committee in your department for advice. Take them to lunch and ask them what makes candidates successful or not, or why they chose to interview or hire the candidates they did.

    1. Gilmore67*

      Yeah…. pretty much what I was thinking.

      Major credibility and judgement issues here. You are thinking of, knowingly and purposely wasting peoples time for your own benefit for something that you don’t even want to happen.

      I am also concerned that professors have suggested this. I would think they, themselves would not want their time wasted on a fake interview.

      And, as others have said, taking interview time away from someone that actually wants the position is not OK.

      Nix this idea now.

    2. mgguy*

      I’m in academia, although staff(for now-I’ll be faculty in August). My current institute/department went through the hiring process for a tenure track position back in the fall, and I think it was EXHAUSTING for everyone involved. We brought in 5 candidates. From my end, it was tiring to research every candidate coming in and give a targeted tour of the facilities I manage to show them what was available and how I’d be able to help them(that was before I’d even known of the existence of my new job). That’s pretty minor in comparison to the people who had to schedule all meetings, seminars, off-hours entertainment(dinner, other stuff to do around town) etc. Plus, pretty much everyone in the department is going to spend time reading your publications and research so that they can converse with you and ask you good questions. Aside from time, the search was financially draining enough that we basically killed our regular weekly seminar budget for the year(we had 3 where we’d normally have about 15) plus other normal “perks” like the Christmas party and other things. Our result was a great candidate, but I think that finding out someone who came hadn’t come in good faith would have been a big red flag.

  36. Professor Ronny*

    #3 Money is very, very tight in academia right now, making this an especially crappy thing to do. Plus, if you interview at a public university, you are wasting taxpayer money. Faculty move around and if anyone found out, you would never be considered for anything anywhere they ended up. Not just positions, but articles in journals and presentations at conferences.

  37. blackcat*

    For #3, I’ve been on the opposite side of this (as have some other female friends and people of color in my very white male field): upon arriving at an interview, it was clear I was not under consideration. At any institutions, not having someone from an underrepresented group on your short list is a red flag, so sometimes us underrepresented folks get invited to fly out even when they don’t actually want us.

    I. was. pissed.
    The phenomenal waste of my time!
    The disrespect!

    I have made a mental list of the departments that I know have done this, and I warn basically everyone I know if they say they’re interviewing in X department.

    So… don’t interview somewhere if you’re sure you don’t want the job. People do this, and it’s really awful. Please don’t.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      That’s even worse than not interviewing underrepresented people at all.

      Sometimes hiring managers post questions here like “we know we’re not going to hire this person, but I like them/the company wants to make a good impression on them/it would be politically expedient to interview them – should I give them a courtesy interview?” And this kind of time-wasting is another reason the answer to that question is no!

      1. blackcat*

        Oh, it’s totally worse, and they do it to pass muster with their equal opportunity offices. I’ve done some work with one such office, and they review the hiring processes for every hire to make sure that UR folks don’t get overlooked.

        I will say that for my now-job, I did in fact get the sense that I was short listed in part to have a woman on the short list.

        But then they liked me! A lot! Better than the men! And I liked them! And turns out, I am a really good fit for the job!

        I view this as affirmative action working. I look different on paper because I took a slightly more circuitous path, which happens more with URMs in STEM. I have a 1.5 year long publication gap on my CV because I had a had a medically complex pregnancy and then a medically fragile baby. I don’t fit the very traditional mold, and that actually makes me *better* at my job.

  38. Rebecca*

    #4 – this is me right now! “Brain Tired! Brain want time off!” OMG. At this point, I’d try for 2 weeks just to relax and decompress. Your brain will thank you for taking the extra time!

  39. a reader*

    Re the company that refused to reimburse the interview plane ticket, a lawyer probably will be expensive. The OP could send them a letter with a draft “review” of the company that they haven’t yet posted and could “entice” the company by agreeing not to post it if the company reimburses as promised. They shouldn’t have to, but that’s something the company might value enough to reimburse as promised, and it wouldn’t cost the OP much.

      1. Lynn*

        I don’t think this is blackmail because the two are casually related. ie it’s not “do this thing for me or else I’ll tell everyone about this unrelated but shady thing you did” (“give me money or I’ll tell everyone about your affair”), it’s “correct this bad thing you did or else I will tell everyone you did it”. It’s also not slander or libel because it’s true.

        1. Colette*

          “Give me money or I’ll tell everyone about this thing you did” is blackmail.

            1. a reader*

              Also, you’d be perfectly OK with the OP sharing the information without getting the promised money but object to the OP’s getting the promised money while agreeing not to share information that’s true?

              I think blackmail typically occurs in situations where the “threatened” person owes no money to the “threatener.” This is not that situation.

  40. mgguy*

    Re: #4:

    I’m in a bit of the same position myself, but don’t really consider it “time off.”

    Basically, I’ve accepted a job offer that’s two states away from where I currently live(although in the same town as my soon-to-be-wife). It’s an academic/faculty job, and even when I applied for it pre-plauge it had a pretty well defined start date(fall semester 2020). I was offered it at the beginning of April, although I didn’t submit a formal resignation to my current position until earlier this week as I was waiting to be formally hired(board of trustees vote and all of that) and also because the start date was given as “No later than August 17th but possibly earlier.” The date did end up being August 17th.

    In any case, when submitting my resignation, I gave August 7tth as my last day. I COULD theoretically move in a weekend, but wanted the breathing room plus August 17th is the “hit the ground running” start date at the new job and I wanted breathing room to get ready for it. If it hadn’t been for the the fact it would leave me with a 2-week health insurance gap, I’d have resigned July 31st!

    1. Allonge*

      Yes – if you can, give yoourself the gift of starting the new job with your brain ‘on’.

  41. Amethystmoon*

    #2 It is incredibly privileged to think that someone can go without $750. For many, that might be a whole week’s paycheck, or even one whole paycheck plus part of next week’s paycheck. They need to give OP the refund. Especially during these trying times, when many people are without jobs and don’t know if they are going to be evicted or not. Yes, some states have passed temporary laws against evictions, but some landlords are ignoring them.

  42. OP1*

    Reading everyone’s comments agreeing w/ my stance makes me feel so much more at ease (and thank you, Alison). I’m naturally a people pleaser and will do whatever I can to get the job done (I realize that may be detrimental in some regards in terms of getting taken advantage of..). The thing is, we’re all working from home and everyone is already equipped with some form of protective gear, soap, sanitizer, etc. so what I’m providing is just extra. We even had a team member graciously offer to sew masks for our 20-size company when this first started, so that’s why all things pointed to boss wanting things for herself because she probably is running low and never asked for a mask herself. I only suspect this because this isn’t the first time..quite passive aggressive in asking for things that ultimately just benefits her. Sure we may be running low but they’re all fully capable of shopping for themselves. I shared some inflated prices of Clorox wipes w/ her online through different vendors and that’s when she had suggested you-tubing DIY solutions WITH BEACH for wipes and getting those added to everyone’s care packages. The intent was to make everyone feel safe and cared for but clearly one person is being left out :/

    Taking all of your feedback, I will push back with a firm statement (not open to a question of permission).

    1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      It kind of seems bizarre to me to send items to your employees at home, unless you happen to have a stash of items in your office that are not currently available in your location. Giving them all a bit of extra money so they can buy these items themselves would be better. If this is all about not having stuff at her own house, then why not ask one of the employees (you, presumably) to place an online order for her? It’s perhaps a little bit presumptuous but it’s better than asking you to go all over town shopping for other people.

  43. Gina*

    # 1 You could always say you don’t want the liability that comes with homemade wipes. There is no guarantee that ones made from home would be effective. Handing them out to employees would imply that they are safe and effective. Someone could get sick from the ingredients. Someone could use one and still get a virus (not just covid). Who would be the person liable? You or the company? I’d give that a hard pass.

Comments are closed.